Tuesday, September 1, 1998 Published at 08:37 GMT 09:37 UK
Carers' needs 'ignored' by doctors
GPs accused of being unaware of the needs of Britain's carers
Carers save the government £34bn a year, but unless they get support soon they will crack under the strain, according to a new report.
A survey of more than 1,300 carers showed that over 70% of carers of working age felt GPs were unaware of their needs.
They said medical staff rarely asked if they could cope and hospital staff often failed to involve them in decisions over the discharge of patients.
The trust wants medical and social services staff to include Britain's estimated six million carers in decision-making.
And it is asking the government to provide them with more support.
In June, Tony Blair announced that a National Carers' Strategy would be developed.
He said: "Without those who are looking after friends and relatives, the NHS and community care could not function.
"If they do not get support, carers who are looking after someone day and night can reach crisis point and end up needing medical help themselves."
Other findings from the survey, sponsored by Glaxo Wellcome, include that nearly two-thirds of carers have looked after a friend or relative for over five years, 16% for over 20 years.
The majority of carers are aged between 16 and 64 and many are in work or have other responsibilities.