In anticipation of the usual winter crisis and shortage of beds, ideas for new ways of working are coming out of the NHS thick and fast. Here are two pilots that could have real advantages for older people.
The first is a proposal in Norfolk, where there is a higher than average proportion of older people. They are opening a separate emergency unit specifically for people over the age of 80. An octogenarian speedy boarding kind of A & E, except the idea is you don’t board. The hope is that they can assess and treat you quickly and get you straight back home. If it works, it is a good idea, because many older people seem to get worse when they are admitted to hospital. Apparently 14% of Norfolks A&E admissions are over 80.
The second new approach being tried out in London is to use video phone consultations between patients and a call service to a doctor, which would give you access to a GP within 2 hours — a sort of now you see him now you don’t virtual type of consultation. That could certainly work for young people who don’t like getting out of bed.
Now if we tweak all that a bit. Extend the age range for speedy non-boarding to include all people over 60. Encourage/ require everyone else to use their mobiles rather than going to hospitals. There would be very few people left who needed to go to A&E.
Another idea would be to send the doctors to visit the elderly in their own homes and maybe call them GP’s.