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Health Insight April 2001:
Care of the elderly: a new blueprint

  The latest NHS 'national service framework' (NSF) was published in March. This NSF deals with older people and outlines national standards to improve the quality of care that they receive. Health Secretary Alan Milburn said, 'This is the biggest national effort there has ever been to improve healthcare for older people. These tough new national standards will root out age discrimination. Older people should be treated according to their clinical needs, not their age. We are putting in extra money, new services and 10,000 more staff to ensure that older people wherever they live get the highest standards of care.' He announced £120m additional funding to help implement the measures in the NSF. This will allow, over the next three years, refurbishment of older wards to improve standards of dignity and privacy. Implementation of the framework will be overseen by Professor Ian Philp, National Director for Older People's Services. In addition to the question of discrimination, the NSF sets standards on: person-centred care, intermediate care, general hospital care, stroke, falls, mental health, and promoting a healthy life. The NSF may be seen in full on www.doh.gov.uk/nsf/folder/olderpeople.htm.

The Secretary of State has also announced that the next NSF will deal with long-term health conditions.

Meanwhile, the government has come under fire from the proprietors of private care homes for the elderly. More than 70 per cent of the residents of such homes have their care paid for by the state, but the National Care Homes Association says the rates being paid are not enough to allow them to provide an adequate service. The Association believes the situation will worsen now that the government has introduced new minimum standards for the homes, which include ensuring that all staff are properly qualified and that residents are given a measure of choice as to how they spend their days. The NCHA says many homes have already been forced to close because of the low level of their fees and many more will soon follow.

Source: Press release (DoH), BBC Online

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  Produced in United Kingdom by The British Council © 2001. The British Council is the United Kingdom's international organisation for educational and cultural relations. Registered in England as a Charity.