Elderly care - the old chestnut

Posted on: 12 February 2010 by Gareth Hargreaves

We've seen billions wasted on foreign wars and overseas aid projects while UK families are buckling under the financial pressure of paying elderly care bills. So why does the latest Government initiative to solve the problem of long term care sound such an empty promise?

When I started working with Age Concern more than twenty years ago the great debate going on was ‘how do we fund Long Term Care for the elderly’?

As a civilized society we have a duty care to our older citizens even if only because it was their efforts and sacrifices that give us the life we enjoy today. From a pure humanitarian point of view we should not have suffering among any sector of our society – after all we are still one of the richest nations in the world.

Well the debate went on for years and I for one was involved in those discussions and the devising of some of the solutions via the insurance industry. The final battleground was the setting up of a Royal Commission on Long Term Care.

The Commission published a report that pretty well stated that care should be provided by the state and free to all. Now the important thing here is that the Commission was set up by the then Secretary for State for Health – Frank Dobson, MP for Camden, and a lifelong member of the Labour party! This was one of the first major initiatives of New Labour!

After the Report appeared, Scotland adopted the recommendations and gave free care – England rejected it and for all intents the Report died! The reason was simple – it was going to be too expensive and we couldn’t afford it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer at that point and for the next 10 years was – yes, you’ve guessed it! – Gordon Brown!

The hypocrisy of the man to now come out with his ‘new vision’ for care for the elderly is offensive! Over those past 12 years tens of thousands of families have struggled with the dilemma of how to pay for a parent's care.
All of us know somebody in this situation and have seen first hand family homes and cherished possessions being broken up and sold, and savings exhausted to pay care bills. Parents facing the distress of seeing their lives’ memories disappearing overnight. A lifetime’s dream of owning a home that they could pass on to their families - dashed!

While this was happening, New Labour has taken us into two wars that cost us billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money for no other reason than to fulfil Tony Blair’s vision of a fair world. Maybe he should have looked closer to home, because it is here that hundreds of millions of pounds continues to be wasted on ‘Government Initiatives’ that are at best total failures and at worst sheer incompetence!
I for one have had enough – I don’t want your ideas, solutions and ‘new initiatives’ Mr Brown – I want you to leave the stage and make way for new people with a sense of purpose to serve the voters as opposed to your shameful attempts to cling to power at all cost!
You’re finished Mr Brown – leave!

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