Elderly patients are ageing the equivalent of ten years when stuck in hospital beds for ten days, according to the new medical director of the NHS.
Professor Stephen Powis has called for sweeping reforms in the light of current issues facing the health service, highlighting the need for community services to step up to keep pensioners out of hospital.
“The population is very different to how it was when the NHS was founded in 1948 and requires an overhaul to be fit for purpose, according to its medical director.“
He has spoken out about the current approach, which sees many of the most vulnerable patients being “trapped” in unsuitable settings, leading to deterioration, such as long-term mobility issues.
In an article in the Telegraph, Prof Powis said: “A person over 80 who spends ten days in hospital loses ten percent of muscle mass – equivalent to ten years of ageing.”
Having only been in the post since January, the medical director is yet to make all of the changes he intends to implement, but he has made no secret of his approach.
Prof Powis has said that the NHS needs to change its model in a fundamental way, allowing it to effectively meet the needs of an ageing population that is subject to chronic incurable health issues.
Explaining how the NHS got into the situation it currently finds itself in, the medical director went right back to the start.
He pointed out that in 1948, when it was founded, most of those who used it were of working age and occasionally needed one-off treatments.
Now, patients are living for an average of ten years longer than seven decades ago and are spending more time in ill-health.
He warned that by 2035, the number of elderly people living with at least four diseases will double, therefore exerting extra pressure on the NHS.
This will equate to seven out of every ten people on hospital wards being there due to long-term health problems.
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