Charity Director at Age UK
Stressful journeys leaving over a million older people feeling worse after hospital visits, says Caroline Abrahams.
For most of us, having a hospital appointment is enough to worry about, but imagine also needing to make a complex journey to get to and from hospital, possibly alone and in pain, while being constantly anxious that you’ll be late.
… a complex journey to/from hospital, possibly alone and in pain, while being constantly anxious that you’ll be late.
Sadly, this is a stark reality for many older people – the main users of the NHS. Age UK’s latest research revealed that almost a fifth (18%) of over-65s who have attended a hospital appointment in the past yeari – over one million peopleii – reported feeling worse afterwards because of the stress of getting to and from the hospital.
For some this was because they had to wait hours for hospital transport, while others had been deemed ineligible for this help and had been forced to use expensive cabs or inadequate public transport.
Patient costs and NHS costs
As we grow older, our chances of having multiple health conditions requiring regular hospital appointments increase. If older people cannot physically get to the hospital services they need or have to endure long, painful and stressful journeys in order to access them, this means extra cost for the NHS. We already know it’s stretched to the absolute limit. More importantly, missed appointments and possible relapses, increase the need for emergency NHS treatment and cause a great deal of distress for older people.
Missed appointments and possible relapses, increase the need for emergency NHS treatment.
Through Age UK’s nationwide Painful Journeys campaign we aim to highlight the difficulties facing millions of older people when travelling to hospital appointments. Age UK is calling on people to write to their MP.
Age UK believes an urgent Government review of transport services is needed to ensure that every hospital journey for an older person is comfortable, affordable, and gets them to their appointment in good time. This would make a big difference to older people, their families and to the NHS.
For more information please visit www.ageuk.org.uk/painfuljourneys.
i All percentages taken from TNS/ Age UK research, September 2017. Base sample: 1342 adults aged 65+ in GB. Of those, 678 adults aged 65+ attended hospital appointment in last 12 months either for themselves or parent/ partner (51% of total sample).
ii Estimated number – 1,057,200. Age UK calculation based on TNS research (Sept 2017) and ONS mid-year 2016 population estimates (pub. July 2017). GB population aged 65+ = 11,516,330, 51% of those attended hospital appointment in last 12 months = 5,873,300. 18% of that number = 1,057,200.