Press release

They speak softly, but carry big walking sticks: survey reveals what older people want from NHS reforms

Tuesday 14 June 2011

They may speak softly, but they carry big walking sticks – vote-prone older people want their GPs to have more control over their care and treatment, and they want Ministers debating NHS reforms to know it.

Over-50s group Saga commissioned an independent Populus survey of nearly 13,000 older people, and more than half of them – an age group which is far more likely to vote in elections than any other – said they’d be happier if their GPs carried more influence and control over their care and healthcare needs.

“Ministers wrangling over how they deal with NHS reforms need look no further than our attitudinal research: it makes it crystal clear that the people who most want or need reliable care and healthcare – older people – are adamant as to what is required,” said Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga.

“We surveyed 12,939 over-50s, and it’s clear that over-50s support radical reforms of the NHS. What’s more, our wider understanding of older people says we should have more involvement of UK care professionals as a whole, not just GPs.

“More than half (59%) of over-50s surveyed would be happier if GPs would, in future, have more control over their long-term treatment and healthcare requirements. This figure increases to 66% among the over-70s, who were most supportive of the changes.

"A third (33%) of respondents to the Saga Populus poll thought that GPs would do better at finding them the best NHS treatment than the existing Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), and Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs).

“GPs should be able to prescribe care services for their patients, not just medicines or diagnostics, and also to prescribe effective telehealth or telecare too.

“Yes, GPs should be in charge, but all hospital doctors and GPs should be able to include prescription of care at home services that will ultimately save the NHS huge amounts of money with our ageing population.

"Older people have great faith in their GPs' commitment and ability to get the best possible health outcomes for them from the NHS.

"There is obviously room for a broader role for health professionals other than just GPs. Integration of medical and social care is very important for future success."


For further information or an interview with Ros Altmann please contact the Saga Press Office on 01303 771529.