Thursday, November 19, 2009

A policy which hurts the most vulnerable.

A recurring theme on this blog is the way we treat the elderly infirm, particularly when they are suffering from dementia. This post concerns a most awful proposal in yesterday's Queen's Speech, which uses the most vulnerable of people as political pawns in a most shameful way.

No-one disputes that social care policy needs reform - and there are several aspects to the debate. Its unfair that everyone who has been thrifty and responsible all of their lives, and saved money have to pay for their own care - while everyone who have saved nothing at all (for all sorts of reasons) have social care provided free of charge. Also, there needs to be more investment in enabling the moderately disabled elderly to stay in their own homes. And there needs to be greater provision of residential places for the most severely disabled who would benefit from this greater level of care. Finally, there needs to a recognition that dementia is a 'physical' disease, involving physical damage to the brain, rather than a form of mental illness. There's a lot else as well. Tackling these issues is not straight forward because of the massive cost implications. There's a lot of thought being put into policy reform, both at Westminster and in the National Assembly.

Yesterday's Queen's Speech proposes that a part of the NHS budget in England be used to support the most frail elderly in their own homes. Superficially attractive - and completely bonkers. Just listen to authoritative Labour Peer, Lord Lipsey rip the proposal to shreds. It will take money from social care for those who would benefit from home care - in order to spend on social care for those who would not. My interest in this issue extends to england as well as Wales. The new digital TV was lucky to survive not having my fist through it last night, as I watched the increasingly oleaginous Ben Bradshaw on Newsnight, trying to justify the Government's poisonous proposal. It was nothing more than a political gimmick, the price of which will have to paid by the most frail elderly in pain and suffering. On its own, this proposal is good enough reason to remove Gordon Brown from office.

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