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Clear Law is backing calls for the Government to put an end to a culture of 15 minute social care visits, saying it is putting patients at risk of developing pressure sores.

Following the release of data concerning cuts to the NHS’s care budget, it’s been revealed that the risk may be reduced if care workers spend more than the current 15 minutes a day assigned to seeing patients over the age of 65.

Official figures seem to suggest pressure sores, or bed sores, may be on the rise in elderly patients as an ageing population and cuts to the social care budget means some vulnerable patients may not be receiving the care they are entitled to. And one factor may be the lack of time spent by nursing staff with these patients.

Many patients over 65 need help to get out of bed, undress, shower, have their breakfast made for them and medication administered every day. Care workers have said they only have 15 minutes with each patient on a typical day because they have so many people to see on a daily basis. On average, people take around 40 minutes to wash, dress and eat breakfast in the morning but many elderly – and sometimes disabled patients – are expected to complete these tasks in quarter of an hour. Pressure sores on the skin can become a real problem as a result.

Pressure sores are caused when there is pressure applied to the skin for a long period of time. Patients develop cuts to the skin and tissue underneath making it very painful. If untreated, they can turn into something more serious. Elderly people are more vulnerable to the condition as they are more likely to remain stationary for longer, and sores can become worse if the patient is not washing – or being washed – properly.

In 2007-2008 £1.7 million was assigned to the home help budget by the Government. Today the figure is £1.3 million. The amount spent per head on over 65s has decreased from £1,188 in 2004 to £951 in 2014.
Some organisations, including the Leonard Cheshire Foundation, which is the leading provider of voluntary disabled care, have expressed their concern over the lack of time spent with elderly patients. Leonard Cheshire found in a recent study that the proportion of visits lasting 15 minutes or less had risen by 15% in the last five years. It is calling for an end to the practice.

Currently, almost half a million patients live in care homes and a further million receive care in their own homes and numbers are rising every year. Council funding levels have dropped considerably over the past decade meaning some patients may potentially be at risk of developing bed sores.
Clear Law is concerned that elderly people possibly have a higher chance of developing bed sores due to council budgets.

Pressure sores due to lack of medical care are just one form of medical negligence. If you believe you or one of your relatives might be a victim of medical negligence, please call us on 0800 122 3036 for help and advice. Alternatively, please check out www.medicalnegligence-solicitors.com for more information.