More than 50,000 people with dementia are ending up in hospital for emergency treatment every year as cuts to “threadbare” social care mean minor conditions are becoming life-threatening, a charity has warned.
Avoidable emergency admissions have increased by 70 per cent in the past five years, according to a report by the The Alzheimer’s Society.
The increase coincides with a 40 per cent cut to local authority budgets since 2012, as part of the government’s austerity measures.
“Successive governments have shirked the issue of our threadbare social care system,” said the charity’s chief executive, Jeremy Hughes.
“Starved of the care they need, people with dementia end up in A&E as a last resort, disrupting their home life and forcing them to struggle in crowded hospital wards. It shouldn’t and needn’t be like this.”
Failure to eat and drink properly can lead to dehydration and significantly increase the chances of a urinary tract infection which can be life-threatening if untreated.
This comes as The Independent revealed thousands of older people are at risk of malnutrition and dehydration in unsafe care homes, themselves often contending with underfunding.
The Alzheimer’s Society said that the overworked and underpaid care workforce lacks time and training which means people with dementia are not getting the support they need.
The charity received responses to a Freedom of Information request from 65 major English hospital trusts detailing numbers of potentially avoidable emergency admissions for conditions including dehydration, delirium, UTIs, chest infections and falls.
They found that the number of admissions for over-65s with dementia rose from 31,000 in 2011/12 to 54,000 in 2016/17.
Meanwhile a poll of 113 of paramedics found that one in five said they see the situation first hand “every day” and half said they see it each week, according to the survey by the College of Paramedics.