Posted: Tue 23rd May 2023

Older people in Wales avoiding A&E departments due to concerns over NHS pressures

Wrexham.com for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, May 23rd, 2023

A survey conducted by the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales has revealed worrying findings that over 40% of older people may be jeopardising their health by avoiding essential healthcare services due to concerns about the pressures on the NHS. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

According to the survey, older people are less inclined to visit Accident & Emergency departments, seek a GP appointment, or utilise out-of-hours GP services. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The survey further disclosed that nine out of ten older respondents express anxiety over the current state of the NHS, and over three quarters are concerned about the condition of social care services. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Commissioner, Heléna Herklots CBE, fears that these results could indicate a significant number of older citizens are not seeking vital medical assistance when needed. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

She expressed specific concerns for those in potential emergencies who might require immediate A&E attention. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

In response to these concerns, the Commissioner has written to health minister Eluned Morgan, setting out her worries and calling for urgent action. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

She urges for steps to reassure older citizens, encouraging them not to hesitate in accessing any necessary health services. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Ms Herklots said, “The findings of my survey, which capture the experiences of people aged 60+ living throughout Wales, provide a helpful insight into the kinds of issues older people are concerned about and what this means for people’s everyday lives.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Further to this, the Commissioner has made a public appeal for older people to share their experiences when it comes to accessing health services. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

She is keen to hear from those who have had to delay or avoid treatment due to the perceived strain on the NHS. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Such information is expected to give her a more comprehensive understanding of the situation, guiding the formation of necessary actions by the Welsh Government and health boards. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

As part of her campaign, older people can relay their experiences via phone, letter, email, or an online form. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Commissioner is also engaging with significant older people’s groups to disseminate this appeal to members across Wales. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Heléna Herklots added, “It’s clear there is a great deal of anxiety amongst older people about the current state of the NHS and social care services in Wales. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

It’s crucial that older people are not discouraged from accessing the help and support they need from the NHS. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

I’ve called on the Welsh Government to work with health boards to assure older citizens that services are available and accessible.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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