THERE is a postcode lottery in the standard and availability of healthcare for older people across different health boards in Scotland, a study has found.

Research by Aberdeen University examined the provision of geriatric care, known as Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA), finding larger health boards had proportionately higher levels of available care.

This did not always correlate to the size of the population – meaning there is a disparity between health board regions.

The study, known as Scottish Care of Older People (SCoOP) national audit project, received responses from 26 Scottish hospitals in 2019.

The study, known as Scottish Care of Older People (SCoOP) national audit project, received responses from 26 Scottish hospitals in 2019The study found a litany of variations in the standard of geriatric health care across various Scottish healthboards

It also showed variations between the health boards across all aspects studied: including staffing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, psychiatry, pharmacy and social work.

Dr Christine McAlpine, co-chair of the SCoOP steering group, said: “This is an important finding.

“CGA is effective in producing better outcomes in older people and in the context of an increasingly ageing population with multimorbidity and frailty, it is important that hospitals evaluate their CGA provision to ensure the highest standard of care for older people admitted to hospitals and optimal outcome.”

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Professor Phyo Myint added: “Our findings provide essential information for clinicians, service providers, policymakers and the public to improve their local services.

“Our results should offer a basis for opening discussion between services to learn from each other’s expertise as we aim to work collaboratively to improve acute care for frail older adults in Scotland and shape Scottish geriatric medicine into a world-leading service.

“A range of reasons exist for the variation in performance.

“Individual (health) boards have been informed of their data so that they can compare with other boards to drive improvement."

“We hope future published reports will include the board names.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our NHS, supported by record funding and staffing, aims to provide high-quality care right across Scotland.

“We are developing an Older People Strategy to further improve care services for the elderly, as well as bringing forward a new National Care Service to end the postcode lottery in adult social care services.”