Socialist Worker

Human cost of Blair's 'reforms'

Issue No. 1753

Care scandal exposes reality of privatisation

Human cost of Blair's 'reforms'

  • 18 care homes a week are being sold off to property developers
  • 1 in 10 of the elderly die when forced to move home

Get fat cats out of services

CARE FOR the elderly in Britain is in a state of near collapse. That is the devastating conclusion of the authoritative King's Fund charity. The King's Fund report, Future Imperfect, damns the treatment of a "lost society" of elderly, mentally ill and disabled people. They are being mistreated by an underfunded and understaffed care system. An extra �700 million a year more is needed to provide a humane standard of care, it says.

Care for the elderly has been systematically privatised by the Tories and by New Labour. The private sector now controls over 70 percent of all long term care beds. Private operators moved in for the kill throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Now they are selling off homes at an incredible rate because they can no longer make a big enough profit.

More than 15,000 care homes closed last year, most sold for luxury residential developments. Today 18 homes a week are being sold off. Their vulnerable residents are abandoned, forced to live elsewhere. More than one in ten elderly people die after such an enforced move. The King's Fund report also slams the fact that one million care workers exist on pay levels of around �5 an hour. They get "poor training, inadequate support from their managers and too little time to care".

The report talks of a "damaging preoccupation" with holding down costs at the expense of quality care. And it damns a system which means the elderly get mistreated, patronised or ignored, and that is often racist towards black and Asian patients. The report also warns that things could get worse: "Failure to tackle this demanding agenda would be short sighted, while for millions of current and future users and their carers it could indeed be catastrophic." It is a dire warning. Already the government refuses to fund free long term care for those who need it.

Hundreds are forced to sell their homes in order to pay the exorbitant rates charged by private care companies. But New Labour plans to extend privatisation into more and more areas of health and social services. Already private firms are bleeding the NHS dry of money through Private Finance Initiative schemes.

Now private firms will build, run, manage and profit from new surgical units. It will mean more suffering as patient care goes to the wall for the sake of profit. That is why trade union leaders were right this week to speak out against Blair's privatisation plans.

More than ever we need a fight to defend our public services and to stop privatisation.

  • For more on union leaders' warnings of battles to come see page 2

What a disgrace

He gives himself...

  • 40% pay rise
  • �163,418 a year
  • And shafts us all

While nurse gets...

  • 3.7% pay rise
  • �16,000 a year
  • And privatisation

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Article information

News
Sat 16 Jun 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1753
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