The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the health and wellbeing of older people was identified as a concern by SOPA. Access to primary care services was a problem for many older people as restrictions were put in place which stopped most face-to-face contact. SOPA’s Health and Wellbeing Group set up a survey to find out more about people’s experiences.
Over 800 responses were received from people across 14 health board areas. 84% of respondents were aged over 60.
- More than half of respondents stated that their ability to access GP and dental services was negatively impacted by the pandemic
- 78% of individuals reported no disruption to obtaining prescriptions for pre-existing health conditions
- 124 people stated that they had accessed private health or dental care due to the inability to access NHS services during the pandemic
- Around a quarter of respondents felt that the pandemic has had a significant impact on their physical health (24%) and mental health (26%)
- 57% of those who took part in the survey were unable to access the support they needed.
The report revealed people’s frustrations with the apparent inconsistencies of restrictions. Many older people were forced to pay for private care which was not available on the NHS, even though it was provided in the same location and with the same practitioners.
Respondents expressed feelings of abandonment, fear and anxiety in not being able to access essential healthcare and many people have been unable to access the support they need.
Many older people are concerned that the Covid-19 pandemic has given the opportunity for a major shift to delivering primary care services online. Whilst this may be beneficial to some, it poses a serious risk that older people are excluded from services, symptoms are missed and situations that could have been prevented result in crises. SOPA asks that people are always given a choice in how care is provided and that face-to-face consultations resume as soon as possible.
SOPA calls on the Scottish Government for a clear plan to address the issues raised in this report, ensuring that the basic health needs and human rights of older people are met and that the inequalities described in the report are prevented from occurring in the future.
The full report is available here Access to Healthcare Survey Report (pdf).