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Hundreds of people in Scotland die while waiting for social care packages

Author: Tom Moran
14 January 2016

A freedom of information request by motor neurone disease campaigner Gordon Aikman has revealed that at least 276 people in Scotland died last year while waiting for their social care packages to be arranged.

NHS Scotland figures indicate that a large proportion of the people waiting for social care to be provided – around 70% – are over the age of 75. There were 1,294 people waiting in hospital for social care in November 2015.

Of the 276 who died while on the waiting list, 95 were from the Edinburgh council area, the highest figure from any single council. Services in Glasgow are contracted out to a private company, and therefore not subject to freedom of information legislation; 26 of Scotland’s 32 councils responded to the request.

Aikman, who has motor neurone disease and receives visits from carers three times a day, said his findings showed "a cruel crisis in care" which he attributed to council budget cuts.

"Behind these figures are real people with stories of desperation, misery and indignity," he told the Scotsman. "Imagine it was your mum or your son waiting months for the help they need to live their life."

He added: "Given our parliament now has revenue-raising powers, it need not be this way."

His sentiments were shared by Richard Meade, head of policy and public affairs in Scotland for Marie Curie.

"Marie Curie patients have experienced delays in getting social care packages, which can impact on their care and place of care. This is not acceptable, particularly for those living with a terminal illness when time may be short," he said.

"Social care support is vital in enabling people to be cared for and die at home if that is their choice. The integration of health and social care in Scotland must address this and ensure that people living with a terminal illness and their carers get the care and support they need from the time they need."

The health secretary, Shona Robison, said that the Scottish government would work with councils to improve care and explained that there would be a £250 million investment in social care in next year’s budget.

"The Scottish government is joining up health and social care for the first time to ensure that our health boards work seamlessly with local authorities to deliver the best possible care," she said.

"We are committed to supporting councils, NHS boards and integrated health and social care partnerships to ensure that their social care packages are arranged effectively to meet the needs of local people."

See more articles in Care

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