Jeremy Hunt MP is Secretary of State for Health. Follow Jeremy on Twitter.
Anyone who has been to an A&E department in recent weeks will know that they are under pressure. A million more people a year are going through the doors compared with Labour’s last year in office.
Some of the root causes stem from decisions we inherited, like the changes to the GP contract in 2004 which led to a decline in the quality and availability of out of hours care. Falling ill at evenings or weekends shouldn’t necessarily mean a trip to A&E, but in too many cases it does, reflecting many people’s lack of confidence in their local out of hours services.
But it is not just about the number of patients going to A&E – the cases are often more complex too. This is particularly true for frail older patients with long term conditions like dementia. A fall at home might lead to a hospital admission. But because of the barriers between hospitals and social care, arranging the discharge of an elderly patient can be a bureaucratic nightmare, causing distress for the patient and adding to the pressures in hospitals.