Published: 27/03/2003, Volume II3, No. 5848 Page 9

Treatment for older people has improved more than could have been expected when the national service framework for older people was introduced two years ago, older people's czar Professor Ian Philp has said.

Two years into the 10-year plan of the framework Professor Philp said there was now hard data to back up his 'rose-tinted' impression that the service had seen enormous progress.

Report of Progress and Future Challenges, published this week, lists a number of successes: an increase of 3,300 intermediate care beds over the last two years; a drop in the proportion of elderly patients aged over 75 being delayed in hospital beds from 13 per cent to 8.9 per cent, and an increase in coronary artery bypass grafts for older people by 16 per cent.

But the report also examines areas in which progress has been more difficult. It admits that the treatment of older people with mental health problems has been 'patchy', citing a lack of suitable care homes and insufficient services to help people with dementia who want to live at home.

Professor Philp told HSJ he wanted to see greater integration with mental healthcare and he said intermediate care was only properly developed when it could provide services for both physical and mental health.

The national director of older people's services is also determined to see improvements in emergency treatment of the elderly.

Following a number of meetings between Professor Philp and national clinical director for emergency access Professor Sir George Alberti, work will begin 'in the next three months' to improve the treatment of older people arriving at accident and emergency departments.

Professor Philp said leads had been appointed in all 28 strategic health authorities and 150 local authorities to develop the framework for older people, and he said he wanted to see an extension of the older people's champions scheme, increasing the numbers from the current 2,200 to 'around five or six thousand'.

www. doh. gov. uk/nsf/ olderpeople/olderpeople-updatemar03. pdf