Ageing population key challenge for Borders

Wednesday 14th August 2019

Progress has been made in key areas of health and social care in the Borders, including A&E waiting times, delayed discharges and emergency hospital admissions for over-75s.

However improvements are required in emergency readmissions to hospital, end of life care and support being given to carers, and the partnership warns an ageing population will continue to put pressure on services.

The performance of Scottish Borders Health & Social Care Partnership over the past year has been assessed in an annual report.

It will be presented at the health & social care integration Joint Board meeting today [14 August].

The report notes nearly a quarter of the Scottish Borders population are now aged over 65, well above the Scottish average of around 19%.

Over the last twenty years, the 64 to 74-year-old age group in the Borders has increased by 48% - compared to 28% across Scotland.

One of the key objectives of the partnership is to ‘help older people to manage their own health better, improving fitness and reducing social isolation’.

The report added: ‘We know the number of older people in the Borders is increasing, and that the proportion of older people in the Borders is increasing at a faster rate than the Scotland average. It is crucial therefore that we continue our promotion of ‘active ageing’’.

A significant increased demand for services associated with an increasing ageing population is one of the factors adding to pressure on budgets.

Last year the partnership required an additional £6.6m from NHS Borders and £3.2m from Scottish Borders Council to enable it to break-even at the end of the year.

The report noted: ‘Many of the financial pressures and challenges experienced by the Partnership in 2018/19 will continue to impact on the ability to deliver a break-even financial position in 2019/20.

‘A key focus will therefore be on delivering savings and on developing more efficient and effective ways of providing services in the context of increasing demand and demographic growth.’

However progress was reported in a number of areas last year – for example 96.1% of people were seen within four hours at A&E – compared to an average of 86.4% across Scotland.

The number of delayed discharges also exceeded targets, while beds occupied by emergency hospital admissions for over-75s showed a positive trend, well below the Scottish average.

But emergency readmissions within 28 days for all ages was 10.7 per 100 – slightly worse than the target of 10.5 per 100.

The report also shows 85.9% of people’s last six months was spent at home or in a community setting, compared to 87.9% across Scotland.

Only 31% of carers support plans had been taken up, compared to the target of 40%.