COUNCILLORS have moved to defuse the ticking timebomb in care for York's elderly by embarking on a long-term approach.

As reported in The Press last week, demand for care in the city is set to soar over the next 15 years.

A report to City of York Council's social services panel said the number of over-65s in York would increase by 9,540 by 2020 - an increase of almost a third.

The number of over-75s will increase by 4,644; the number of dementia sufferers by 700; and the number of people with physical and sensory disabilities by 6,000.

Councillors were advised to embark on a long-term, multi-body approach to meeting that rising demand, or shell out an extra £7 million a year by 2020.

Speaking after a meeting of the panel, Sue Galloway, the council's executive member for social services, said: "This is a very important document. It will be used to shape services for older people in the city over the next 15 years.

"All partners in the health field need to be involved and I am pleased to say that the Primary Care Trust, despite its financial difficulties, was agreed to work with us on this strategy.

"These discussions must also include York Hospital, the voluntary sector and the independent sector.

"There will be further consultation and I urge people to get involved.

"York is well ahead of other authorities who have yet to scope the extent of their problems. We also plan to do further studies covering learning disabilities, sensory disabilities and physical disabilities.

"All councils face huge problems affording the rising costs of providing care, but York is leading the way in preparing for the future."

Speaking to The Press last week, Don Parlabean, chairman of York Older People's Assembly, said he sympathised with the council, and blamed the Government for the impending funding difficulties.

He said: "What we are frightened of is that so many people are going to be held back. Pensioners do not go screaming to their doctor every five minutes.

"They say I'm going to have to wait my time, there are worse people off than me'. But they will wait too long and we will end up burying them, and the PCT will bury the problems.

"The only way it is going to be solved is for the Government to put some money to it. We are only talking millions. They took billions to go to war, and to stick a new warhead on a rocket, but when it comes to health and a few millions, they do not want to know. They will have to rethink."