Posted 12 September 2012
Elderly people could spend less time in hospital.
Elderly people would need to spend less time in hospital if care in England were better organised, experts say. A review by the King's Fund found there was scope to reduce the number of overnight stays by 2.3 million.
That would free up 7,000 beds - 6% of the total - saving the NHS nearly £500m a year, according to the think-tank. The figures were based on all hospitals performing as well as the best 25% in terms of admissions and lengths of stay, for the over-65s who need urgent care.
This group of patients excludes those admitted to hospital for routine check-ups and non-emergency operations such as knee and hip replacements. Instead, it covers the ones admitted via accident and emergency or sent to hospital by GPs for urgent help.
The review said the factors underpinning their use of hospitals were complex. But the think-tank said its work suggested there were some key areas the NHS could prioritise stays.
The presence of senior doctors at the point of admission could also help reduce numbers by ensuring the elderly were channelled to the best services sooner, the report said. Meanwhile, better integration with social care would help speed up discharge and, therefore, reduce length of stay in hospital.