Another bonanza for the shareholders?
This blog follows on from a previous blog on this subject, published in 2014
My family and I have recently been subject to the vagaries of NHS system and the bewildering world of social care. Like so many families when a loved one falls seriously ill, you take a dive into a parallel universe that you might have thought about, but suddenly get thrust into for real. It starts with shock and confusion and pretty soon moves on to frustration at trying to find your way round a system that is supposed to put the patient first, but often fails due to being overstretched and managed by too many ‘cooks’. I am aware, however, that in many ways we are in some ways more fortunate (if that’s the right word) than others in this situation – the illness is cancer, not dementia. The NHS goes into full swing for us and we don’t have the added stress of to try to work out which care agency to use, how much it’s going to cost and how to pay for it.
The Conservative Manifesto suggests that in the future more social care will have to be paid for privately, if necessary by remortgaging any property without a financial cap. I understand that there are pressures on the system, but what will the real cost be and who will be the winners if this policy is enacted? It probably doesn’t take a detective to work it out, but one thing’s for sure, with an aging population there will certainly be profits to make. The likelihood is that the private care sector will ramp up to fill the gap with little or no protection on costs from the government, along with equity release companies who will charge interest for the privilege of staying at home. You only have to look over the Atlantic to see the impact that such private companies have on the lives of people who should be concentrating on caring for their loved one, rather than being stressed out about deciding which care/health company is good or bad, whether the insurance will cover it, and if not how to pay for it (possibly selling/remortgaging their house).
It is a shame that more creative and equitable solutions are not being considered in the future of social care as well as how to fund it – they do exist! There is always a rush to look for a private solution, with the same old business models, which put their shareholders first. The Manifesto talks about encouraging Public Sector Mutuals, but the current Government has made no real effort to encourage the formation of social enterprises that could reinvest profits back into the system as well as behaving more ethically. The local community could even have a stake in such companies! What is clear though is that if we are talking about delivery outside the state, then there is a need for regulation and a guarantee that people can have confidence that shareholder financial gain is not the underlying goal – profiteering from the sick and dying is inexcusable, morally questionable and one of the key reasons that the NHS was set up in the first place.