MP calls for carers to jump hospital waiting lists

During an event last week Salford and Eccles MP, Hazel Blears said allowing carers of people with dementia to receive fast track hospital treatment would reduce the need for respite care.

Speaking at an event to mark Dementia Awareness Week, Ms Blears told how her mum Dorothy, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s six years ago, had been forced to go into a respite home while her dad Arthur, who is the main carer, was waiting to receive treatment for his leg.

The MP told visitors at the Humphrey Booth Resource Centre in Swinton, which included people with dementia and their carers, that this was a common occurrence.

She said:

‘The system did not recognise that for every week he was not treated mum had to stay in respite care. That is disorientating for the person in respite, but respite care also costs taxpayers money.

‘Why can’t a note be put on the NHS computer records to explain that the patient is also a full time carer and ensure they receive priority treatment?

‘We already do this for veterans whose condition is related to their service and I don’t think other people would object.’

The cost of respite care is currently means-tested so is funded or part-funded by social services in many instances. Ms Blears, who is vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia, has written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to seek his support for the idea.

More than 100 people attended Thursday’s event at the centre, which offers activities for people with dementia like singing and gardening. There was also a ‘chairobics’ demonstration and presentations on dementia support and volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Society.

Support services manager for Salford Anne Grout said:

‘The week is an opportunity to increase understanding about dementia, address misconceptions and ensure people receive the support they need to live well with the condition.

‘Having a conversation about dementia can sometimes be difficult, but often talking can change things for the better.

From speaking to friends and family, to your GP, or getting support from Alzheimer’s Society – talking can be an important first step in accessing support that’s right for you.’

Among those at the event were Margaret and Fred Pickering from Worsley. Margaret, 70, is the main carer for Fred, 84, a former carpentry teacher at Moorside High School in Swinton who was diagnosed with dementia seven years.

Hailing the ‘brilliant event’, she said there were thousands of carers who needed more recognition and that some family members fell into the role without seeking the support they are entitled to.

She said:

‘I think giving carers faster hospital treatment when they need it is a great idea. The fact people are carers should be on all their medical records.

‘Being a carer is the hardest thing in the world and Hazel Blears understands that because of her own family experience.