THE number of elderly people admitted to hospital in Barnsley after a fall is now the highest in the Yorkshire and Humber region - despite several years of preventative work to help frail over-80s.

A and E admissions in the town - relating to those aged 80 and above - stood at 815 per 100,000 residents, which ranks Barnsley much higher than the national average.

A pilot programme, which has been run by Age UK since 2021, has been successful, offering more than 180 different activities across Barnsley, with more than 2,000 people taking part, but is up for renewal.

Of those taking part, 99 per cent reported that their levels of physical activity increased, and 97 per cent reported their mental wellbeing had increased.

However, following the publication of the figures, council bosses say it is ‘essential’ that the £185,000-per-year programme continues, as it helps older people improve their strength and balance, reducing their risk of falls and reducing pressure on the health and social care system.

It is proposed that the council will commission a provider for three years from April next year to March 2027, with the option to extend for an additional two years should funding be approved.

A report, compiled by public health principal Cath Bedford, said: “The programme improves health outcomes for older people by improving their strength, balance and movement.

“As a result, people are less likely to experience de-conditioning, which increases the risk of falls, which, in turn, increases pressure on the health and social care system.

“Based on the programme’s success, impacts and outcomes we have seen from the pilot, it is essential for this work to continue.”

Census figures show there were almost 48,000 people aged 65 and over - up from 40,010 in 2011.

It means the proportion of over-65s living in Barnsley rose from 17.3 per cent to 19.5 per cent over the last decade, which spurred the council to commission the service.

“Barnsley has an ageing population, and as people live longer, it is imperative to support them to age well and support their independence and wellbeing into later life,” the report added.

“As people get older, the risk of falling increases, and so any preventative work to maintain strength and balance and reduce the risk of falls is beneficial.

“This is not only for people but for the wider health and care system, which remains in high demand.

“But the service is not statutory - however, it delivers a number of benefits, improving health outcomes for older people’s strength, balance and movement.

“The service also provides a support network within the community which is important for their mental health and wellbeing.

“Procuring the offer for up to five years not only provides some sustainability to the local providers in delivering the model, but more importantly it benefits residents and helps to maintain and improve wellbeing and independence for older people.”