BGS President responds to Daily Mail article ‘Hospitals harm the elderly’

On 13th November 2022, The Daily Mail published an article raising concerns about the safety of older people being admitted to emergency departments this winter.

The article included an interview with Dr Adrian Boyle, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, highlighting increased waiting times, high hospital occupancy rates and delayed discharges due to lack of social care.   

In response to the publication of this article, Dr Jennifer Burns, President of the British Geriatrics Society, commented:

These comments in The Daily Mail will not come as a surprise to doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. Our members are used to caring for older people who are well enough to leave hospital but cannot be discharged because of a lack of care packages in the community. We highlighted this through our Timely Discharge campaign last year and it is clear that nothing has changed. Successive governments have promised and failed to reform the social care sector, and this leads to increased pressure on departments across acute hospitals. Ultimately older people are paying the price for a government failure.

There is much we can do to support older people to live well in the community and to reduce the number of people admitted to hospital. However, it is important to note that hospital admission is absolutely necessary and safe for many older people. It would be a tragedy if as a result of this rather sensationalist article, older people neglected to seek medical treatment when they were unwell. We urge older people to come forward when they are ill and get the medical treatment that they need.

As we approach the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, we call on UK governments to invest in health and social care services to ensure that all older people can access the care that they need, both in hospital and once they are discharged."