Patients wary of NHS ability to provide long-term care, says KPMG
Patients across the UK fear for their long-term care and believe that it will only be secure if health and social care is paid for through a combination of State and family funding. Yet, with many families unable to bear the cost of long-term care needs, a significant proportion also argue that taxes should rise to meet the health needs of the UK’s ageing population.
KPMG questioned 1,000 patients about the future of the NHS and found just 12 percent saying they were ‘very confident’ that it could meet their long-term healthcare needs. Instead, many suggest that they want to be looked after by a combination of paid professional staff and family members (69 percent) with some accepting that nursing care homes ‘will provide the best support in my latter years’ (45 percent).
Many of those questioned also acknowledged that the current model of care needs to be refinanced if long-term care needs are to be met. 54 percent, for example, argue that taxes should rise to pay for healthcare and a similar proportion (55 percent) even suggest that other public services, such as defence or education, should be cut so that healthcare costs can be met.
“Few, if any, societies have truly faced up to the magnitude of the crisis of long-term care. All too often the debate over finance seems to overshadow the scale and gravity of the wider challenge which is – and always should be – delivery of quality care for patients. Funding is, of course, a critical issue but with the strain on the public purse set to continue for some time, attention must be given to how care can be redesigned so that it improves, and how private and voluntary bodies can work together with government to ensure patient needs come first,” says Andrew Hine, UK head of health at KPMG.
KPMG’s survey also sought to explore why patients are concerned about the prospects for their long-term care. The majority of those questioned (74 percent) suggested that teams of healthcare workers change to frequently to have a positive effect. Almost 4 out of 5 respondents (79 percent) went further, claiming that, too often, ‘quality of life’ is mistaken for ‘quality of care’.
The findings have been released to coincide with the launch of a new report examining the current state of eldercare and offering insights for ways forward. Called ‘An Uncertain Age: re-imagining long-term care in the 21st Century’, the report argues that historically poor co-ordination between healthcare, social services and community support combined with insufficient standards and patients failing to admit to their needs have come together to create the problems we face today.
Produced by KPMG and the Lien Foundation, the report notes that integrating care, by better co-ordinating the different healthcare professionals at each stage of the long-term care process, is paramount. It also draws attention to the growing costs and focuses on how governments, the private sector, society and families should bear responsibility for care costs.
The issue of paying for long-term care is clearly felt keenly by the UK population. KPMG’s survey reveals that although 82 percent believe Government should pay for long-term care, just 9 percent assume they won’t have to make a contribution to the cost of care, beyond taxes. Asked how funding should be met 35 percent agreed that individuals should help foot the bill, whilst 27 percent put the onus on patients’ families. Just over one-third (34 percent) agreed with the idea that private insurance should contribute.
The survey concluded by examining attitudes towards long-term healthcare. Whilst 64 percent accepted that, where clinically possible, patients should be treated at home, only 36 percent were comfortable with the idea of using technology such as video consultations to reduce time spent on the ward. Nearly half (48 percent) feared the impact of technology on patient-carer interaction.
Andrew Hine concludes: “The onus is on a wide group of leaders to come up with an affordable way to pay for the care today’s society will need, tomorrow. It’s encouraging to see a heavy dose of realism with many patients accepting that the Government can’t be expected to cover all costs unless taxes rise substantially or major savings are made elsewhere. Yet part of the problem lies in perception. Too many patients still think that they can only receive help in hospital; they are yet to accept that technology can keep costs down and provide quality care in a home environment. Changing that perception is key to providing both quality and affordable care for the future”.