Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Care privatisation - time for change

The revelations in last night's Panorama of abuse at a private residential unit has shocked the nation and rightly led to police arrests. Whilst this was a particularly shocking episode, concerns over care provision have rarely been out of the news in recent months. Examples include:

  • The collapse of Southern Cross care homes is a potential tragedy for residents and staff and has highlighted the economics of the private care home industry. The Financial Times has provided a clear analysis and described this as "The shameful state of the UK care homes"; commenting that "Private care providers seeking to maximise profits are tempted to cut back on the spending needed to provide the best possible care for those vulnerable people in their charge."
  • The Elsie Inglis care home in Edinburgh closed after the death of a resident. The home was being investigated by Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS) who said they had “serious concerns” about standards of care.
  • Today's Guardian publishes an open letter from mental health groups over the impact of welfare benefit cuts. "The government's changes to the welfare system are having a "devastating" impact on hundreds of thousands of people with mental health problems and have driven some of the most vulnerable to try to take their own lives, according to charities and medical experts."
  • Last night's Newsnight Scotland highlighted massive increases in care charges. Disabled persons groups said that these charges were being used to finance the Council Tax freeze.
  • Councils across Scotland are privatising homecare in response to budget cuts. The scandal of the "15 minute care visit" was highlighted in an earlier Panorama programme.
  • The personalisation agenda, whilst an appropriate solution for some groups, is being adopted as the new 'one size fits all' approach to care. It is being used in several areas as cover for budget cuts. It is also being used to drive further privatisation. 
These stories highlight a crisis in the care industry and we are drifting into a privatised service without any real public debate. With a growing elderly population these pressures will not go away. It is surely time to call a halt to privatisation and undertake a detailed review of the future of care.

1 comment:

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