Friday, June 5, 1998 Published at 19:22 GMT 20:22 UK
Carers miss out on care
Many carers feel they are not listened to by NHS staff
Carers are given little support by the health service and almost no information on issues that affect them, a new report reveals.
A survey of 3,000 carers by the Carers' National Association found that half had experienced physical injuries or stress-related illnesses because they had not been given the support they needed. This is despite the fact that many carers are elderly or in poor health.
Almost 90% were not given any advice by NHS staff on lifting and handling techniques or other practical information.
Less than half were given information about the care they should provide when the person they cared for was discharged from hospital. And a third felt they were not listened to by hospital staff.
Although carers said GPs offered them the most support, only 14% said their GP visited them to see how they were coping.
The Carers National Association says the report, 'Ignored and invisible?', shows that NHS staff are not aware of carers' needs.
"Carers are too often casualties in the NHS, and frequently fall into the gap between health and social care responsibilities," said Melanie Henwood, author of the report.
She called on the Department of Health to improve the way the NHS works with carers.
Jill Pitkeathley, chief executive of the Carers National Association, called carers "one of the health service's most valuable assets".
She said: "We believe that the goodwill is there to improve the situation and we shall be working in close cooperation with the NHS to change the position of carers from being ignored and invisible to being involved in genuine partnership with health professionals."
'Ignored and invisible?' is available from the CNA, priced £10, on 0171 490 8818.