Personal care should be a private matter
By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson
Last week we had confirmation that local authorities spent £100m less on residential and nursing home care in 2013/14 than they did the previous year.
The confirmation from the Health & Social Care Information Centre wasn’t news; we all know that numbers of State-funded residents have been dwindling and the much forecast two-tier market is well and truly with us.
Care providers looking to build new capacity see local authorities as being increasingly irrelevant once a new care home is up and running. One upside is that the role of local authorities as ‘market managers’ (something they never did well) has now been extinguished – but this is vastly outweighed by the downsides.
The Government’s laissez faire approach to the care home sector means bed shortages in some areas are becoming marked as developers look to build in locations where they can attract a preponderantly private-pay clientele. And where do frail elderly people wind up if there are no care home beds? In hospital.
England has about three hospital beds per fifty thousand citizens – the third lowest provision in the western world. It is almost a no-brainer that, had we a functional social care sector which was able to provide intermediate care/reablement/stepdown/whateveryouwanttocallit services, then we might have a chance at having an affordable NHS that was fit for purpose.
But this isn’t going to happen until politicians have the courage to challenge the attitude of ‘NHS good/private bad’ and governments frame policies to encourage private investment in social care services, thereby freeing-up the NHS to do its job.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.