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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.

Carers feel they need more support
The report, Taken for Granted?, published by The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, says many feel they are not consulted over decisions and their needs are ignored.

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.

National strategy

In June, Tony Blair announced that a National Carers' Strategy would be developed.

[ image: David Butler: the NHS could not function without carers]
David Butler: the NHS could not function without carers
David Butler, chief executive of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, claimed carers' perceived lack of support was a "time bomb".

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."

Long-term care

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.

[ image: Carers say they are rarely consulted by medical and social care staff]
Carers say they are rarely consulted by medical and social care staff
Around 94% administered medicines and other treatment, but only a third had any medical training.

The majority of carers are aged between 16 and 64 and many are in work or have other responsibilities.

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