One in five unpaid carers say they have no choice but to take their loved one to A&E because a district nurse or a GP was not available, a report has concluded.
Carers UK has released a report, Pressure Points, looks at the role of carers in reducing emergency admissions and delayed transfers of care.
The report found that of the carers who have taken their loved ones to A&E, four in 10 believe their admission could have been prevented.
Over half of carers believed that these admissions could have been prevented with more or higher quality support for the person they care for.
Meanwhile, 32% said the admissions could have been prevented if there was more support for them as a carer, while 25% said access to a district nurse would have helped.
A&E admission statistics from NHS England revealed that there were over half a million more visits to A&E in the first quarter of 2016 than in the same period last year.
Some 58% of carers said this growing demand forced the person they care for to be discharged from hospital too early, with 12% saying they had been readmitted as a result.
The charity is therefore calling for a “carer friendly NHS programme”, including policies, which ensure carers are involved in decision making around hospital admissions and discharges.
They are also recommending greater support from primary care services to help carers look after their own health.
Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “The majority of care provided in England is not by doctors, nurses or care workers, but by family and friends. These carers have told us that they aren’t able access the support they need, when they need it, from community health and care services, so they are reluctantly having to turn to A&E.
“What’s more, a lack of consultation, support and information at the point their loved one is discharged from hospital means that many families are taking on a caring role in a crisis and feel unprepared. This isn’t sustainable and is leading to many people being readmitted to hospital shortly after they’ve been discharged, piling more pressure on an already stretched NHS.
“With more and more families picking up caring responsibilities and older people with care needs being encouraged to stay at home for longer, a step-change is urgently needed to boost investment in community services and involve carers in decisions about the support they, and their loved ones, need to manage at home.”