Surge in over-90s needing ambulance

More than 300,000 people over the age of 90 were taken to A&E by ambulance in the last year

More than 300,000 people over the age of 90 were taken to A&E by ambulance in the last year

First published in National News © by

The number of very elderly people needing to go to hospital by ambulance has risen 81% since 2009/10, according to new figures.

Analysis by Labour showed that 300,370 people over the age of 90 were taken to A&E by ambulance in the last year, a substantial rise on previous years. In 2009/10 the figure was 165,910.

The data comes from tables of ambulance activity in England published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Labour said the figures confirm that cuts to social care funding are driving up the need for hospital attention among the elderly, who often suffer a range of conditions.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said data in the House of Commons library shows that local authority spending on adult social care has been cut by £1.8bn since 2009/10.

He said: "These shocking figures expose the growing crisis in older people's care on David Cameron's watch.

"The Government's severe cuts to social care have left thousands of older people without the support they need - at risk of going into hospital and getting trapped there. It is one of the root causes of David Cameron's A&E crisis.

"It is appalling to think that, every week, there are thousands of frail and frightened people speeding through our towns and cities in the backs of ambulances to be left in a busy A&E.

"This is often the worst place for them to be and a disorientating experience that can cause real distress. With proper support in the home, this could all be avoided."

Mr Burnham said it "does not make financial sense" to cut support to people in their homes.

He added: "It is no answer to the challenges of the ageing society to allow our hospitals to become increasingly full of older people. David Cameron must take personal charge and reverse these terrible trends."

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "It is important that older people receive the treatment and care they need and sometimes this means going to hospital. However we know that in some cases being admitted to hospital is the consequence of not getting good quality care at home.

"Access to high quality social care is increasingly difficult as many vital services are withdrawn or reduced as a result of the current crisis in care.

"Smarter thinking about how to prevent people reaching crisis point and by meeting their needs will not only improve the experience and outcomes for patients but also has the potential to save money.

"The core of the problem is that funding for social care has failed and is still failing to keep up with growing demand. Legislative reform is vital but pointless unless sufficient funding is in place."

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