NHS abolishing specialist old-age psychiatry teams

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

Elderly people with mental health problems such as dementia risk losing out as the NHS put an end the provision of specialist old age psychiatry teams.  Such services run memory clinics in hospitals and provide care for people at home.  The heads of dozens of professional groups including the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Geriatrics Society have urged the NHS to reconsider the abolishment of such teams.

Dr James Warner, chairman of the faculty of Old Age Psychiatry at the Royal College of Psychiatry said “there’s not one shred of evidence to say that people get a better deal in ‘ageless’ services and there’s evidence that they get a worse deal.”  He stated “a frail 80-year-old is likely to find herself on the same ward as a 19-year-old with psychosis who’s very chaotic and aggressive” adding that “there’s a world of difference between older people’s requirements and younger people’s.”

A survey has revealed that so far 11% of trusts have abolished the services and 7% are currently planning to do so.  Norman Lamb, the Care Minister, said “Our mental health strategy aims to improve the care of people of all ages but this doesn’t mean we believe a one-size-fits-all approach is the right way forward.  The local NHS must decide which services best meet the needs of people in their area and make sure they are available for those who need them.”

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