Dr Ros Altmann, Director General of over-50s group Saga, commenting on the rising level of “bed blocking” in England, said:
“Radical reform seems to be being applied to every aspect of our lives – except care. Why? The benefits – blindingly obvious - could be financially and socially life-changing.
“On average, a hospital bed costs £255 a day – and there were 128,500 patient days of delay in getting people, mainly elderly and vulnerable, back home or into the social care system in August and September 2011 alone. Don’t bother reaching for the calculator – it’s clearly a massive cost, is growing, and equates to just one-sixth of the year.
“This country is wasting billions of pounds paying for older people to be cared for in the most expensive and often most inappropriate places – hospital wards - instead of ensuring they are looked after in their own home or a care home.
“Not only would costs be slashed, it would be vastly more dignified and comfortable for all concerned. We need that radical overhaul of care funding, and proper integration between health and care systems for the increasing numbers of older people in the UK.
“The Andrew Dilnot care funding report ball has clearly been kicked deep into the long grass. Somebody needs to go get it – which would surely help in unlocking the care crisis, yet another facet of which is laid bare here.
“We need to get people out of hospital faster and into the care system rather than staying in hospital longer than they need to, which is worse for them - and much worse for the NHS - or better still, avoid hospital admission in the first place.”