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Carers take loved ones to emergency department because of lack of district nurses

One in five carers have taken their loved one to the emergency department (ED) due to failures in GP out-of-hours services and district nursing, figures suggest.
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1 in 5 carers have taken their loved one to the emergency department (ED), due to problems accessing district nursing and GP out-of-hours services, new figures suggest.

A new report from the charity Carers UK found people turn to hospital emergency departments because they do not know where else to go.

ED attendances across England have risen to 22.3 million in 2014/15, up from around 14 million in 2002.

Lack of access

The new report, based on surveys with about 5,000 carers, found 1 in 5 had taken their loved one to the ED in the last year, because they could not see a district nurse or a GP out of hours.

More than half (55%)

1 in 5 carers have taken their loved one to the emergency department (ED), due to problems accessing district nursing and GP out-of-hours services, new figures suggest.


More than half of those who went to the ED said the visit could have
been prevented with more support in the community.

A new report from the charity Carers UK found people turn to hospital emergency departments because they do not know where else to go.

ED attendances across England have risen to 22.3 million in 2014/15, up from around 14 million in 2002.

Lack of access

The new report, based on surveys with about 5,000 carers, found 1 in 5 had taken their loved one to the ED in the last year, because they could not see a district nurse or a GP out of hours.

More than half (55%) of those who had gone to the ED felt that the admission could have been prevented with more support in the community, or more local support for them as a carer (32%).

A quarter blamed a lack of access to a district nurse.

Carers also felt some hospital care was poor, with 58% saying the person they care for had been discharged from hospital too early.

Carers unprepared

As a result,12% of loved ones had to be readmitted.

Carers UK chief executive Helena Herklots said: 'The majority of care provided in England is not by doctors, nurses or care workers, but by family and friends.

'These carers have told us that they aren't able to access the support they need, when they need it, from community health and care services, so they are reluctantly having to turn to [the ED].

'What's more, a lack of consultation, support and information at the point their loved one is discharged from hospital, means that many families are taking on a caring role in a crisis and feel unprepared.

Functioning on good will

'This isn't sustainable and is leading to many people being readmitted to hospital shortly after they've been discharged, piling more pressure on an already stretched NHS.

'With more and more families picking up caring responsibilities, and older people with care needs being encouraged to stay at home for longer, a step change is urgently needed to boost investment in community services, and involve carers in decisions about the support they, and their loved ones, need to manage at home.'

Recent research from the King's Fund concluded overstretched district nursing services were functioning on nurses’ good will, and health service leaders must recognise their vital, strategic importance.


Further information

District nursing at breaking point, warns think tank

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