4 Jan 2014

Elderly being left in hospital during holidays

9:46 pm on 4 January 2014

The organisation representing aged care providers says poor funding of respite care is prompting people to leave elderly family members in emergency departments while they go on holiday.

emergency ward in hospital

Photo: PHOTO NZ

Waikato Hospital emergency department clinical director John Bonning says each holiday period elderly people are brought into hospitals solely because their regular carers want to go away and don't know where else to send them.

Dr Bonning says it's often clear the patients have little wrong with them except being elderly and frail and people need to plan ahead for the health needs of themselves and the people they are caring for.

Aged Care Association chief executive Martin Taylor says there is a shortage of respite care beds, because the service is so poorly funded that facilities often lose money.

Mr Taylor says the lack of respite care just adds to the pressure on the public health system, and the Government needs to accept that funding needs to be increased.

Grey Power spokesperson for social services Violet McCowatt says the practice is appalling, and all New Zealanders need to ask why it is happening.