Socialist Worker

Staff and residents put at risk by lax new care rules

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2427

Doncaster Care UK workers rally

Doncaster carers are fighting Care UK (Pic: Socialist Worker )


Care homes have now been deregulated to the point that operators are not being required to put in place emergency procedures.

And care bosses no longer have to inform their residents about how to make complaints if things go wrong.

These are just some of the new statutory regulations for care homes that a parliamentary committee has nodded through.

It was music to the ears of private care firm bosses—and it faced little opposition from MPs.

The Sixth Delegated Legislation Committee rubber stamped the 32-page Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 on 16 October.

This latest round of care deregulation is deeply worrying.

It comes at a time when standards at Suffolk care homes run by health and social care profiteer Care UK are being called into question.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) slammed Care UK for failing four out of five care standards at its Mildenhall Lodge home in September this year.

An inquest into the death of Mildenhall resident Ethel Butcher took place last week. 

Ethel died of bronchopneumonia and emphysema at the home in September. 

Suffolk coroner Dr Dan Sharpstone said that Ethel’s family “raised concerns with care issues”.

And unacceptable standards were highlighted again only weeks after the Mildenhall inspection when Suffolk council visited another home.

It said aspects of care had also fallen short at Care UK-run Asterbury Place.

New admissions to Mildenhall and Asterbury have now been suspended. These are two out of three brand new Care UK homes in Suffolk.

Handed

The Tory-run council handed existing council care homes to Care UK almost two years ago.

It was part of a £60 million deal to build ten new homes. The council agreed to pay Care UK £600 a week for 370 places. Over two years that is over £23 million.

But concerns were raised at a £10,000 donation in 2009 to local Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association by the wife of the then chairman of Care UK.

The private donation was made by Caroline Nash, who is the wife of John Nash, now a peer, who was chairman of Care UK until 2010.

The current fiasco has forced local Suffolk MP and Tory junior health minister Dan Poulter to call on the CQC to inspect all 14 Care UK homes in the county immediately.

Care UK has also attacked its workers’ pay and their terms and conditions. 

It has done this by reclassifying the workplaces as nursing homes and regrading jobs. The workers’ Unison union says this has meant a huge pay cut.

These attacks have led to an exodus of skilled staff. 

Workers are seeking new jobs while inadequately trained, newly hired Care UK staff are left to provide poorer standards of care.

Meanwhile Care UK is reaping the profits. 

The experience of Care UK workers in Suffolk mirrors that of Doncaster carers who have fought against these same practices by the same employer. 

They have struck for 90 days over an eight-month period this year.

They suffered pay cuts of up to 35 percent.

Their Unison regional organiser for health, Jim Bell, has said they have voted for a three-week strike at Christmas and to strike one day in the next month.

Care workers face the same vulture companies attacking workers’ jobs, pay and worsening of the standard of the care services. 

Politicians seem to have little interest in protecting either. 

Workers and residents need to see the union coordinate a national fight to kick the vultures out of public health and care services.

 


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