Friday, October 27, 2006

Aneurin Bevan (pictured) would turn in his grave

In my opinion and indeed in my working experience one of the most distressing things about our welfare state is how older people towards the end of their lives have to sell their home to pay for their care in private nursing homes or residential care homes.

I think this is scandalous.

I imagine the scene in 1948 when these people were young men and young women and had just fought a 6 year World War.

They were told by the politicians of the day that following the creation of the National Health Service;

‘Poverty will no longer be a disadvantage or wealth an advantage. All health care will be free to all’

Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960) was the Minister of Health in 1948 and used these words to describe the birth of the new National Health Service and I am sure Mr Bevan, a passionate and committed Labour MP, believed and meant this with every last drop of his considerable passion for the NHS.

So here we are almost 60 years later and those young people who are now in the autumn of their lives, see their bank balances rapidly dropping as they pay anything up to £1000 per week for their care.

I have met many such people in my career and also their carers. They are just not interested in hearing subtle and complex reasons why politicians, health and social care managers argue between themselves about whether certain medical condition merit ‘free’ NHS care or ‘means tested’ Social Care.

What really matters to those older people is the promise of politicians 60 years ago – albeit well intentioned. Is there any wonder the population is cynical about politics and politicians when the most vulnerable, the most fragile and weakest in our society are taken advantage of in such an appalling way?

The other issue it brings to my mind is that we need to think very seriously about promises made in 2006 by politicians.

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