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It’s time to put hospitals and care homes together at last

10:35 12 January 2017

The Herman de Stern building on Felixstowe sea front was a convalescent home.

The Herman de Stern building on Felixstowe sea front was a convalescent home.

This is the time of year when we hear about the crisis in the NHS with A&E units struggling to cope – and social care facing financial meltdown, writes Paul Geater.

Every year we seem to hear the same thing. Every year we hear it really is worse than it’s ever been before. It’s something that happened before the 2010 general election and I’m not sure things will ever change whoever is in power.

But surely there needs to be a major change to the way we see health and care services. Isn’t it time they were really brought together under the same management with the same budget so they can be dealt with together?

The way care is organised is a national disgrace. Its organisation is farmed out to county councils which are then told by ministers that they are spending too much and have their budgets cut by Whitehall.

That forces them to squeeze the care providers who are then forced to pay the minimum they can to their staff – even though they are doing some of the most unpleasant jobs you can imagine (although at the same time they can be very rewarding in a non-financial sense).

You end up with the morally indefensible position where those who are “wealthy” enough to pay for their own care (which invariably means eating into their lifetime savings) are effectively subsidising those whose care packages are met by the council.

The message from the government and the county council is clear – don’t bother saving up for your old age because you’ll only end up subsidising those who haven’t!

The thing is that health and social care really are two sides of the same coin. Back in the 60s this seemed to be understood.

I can remember going to see a relative who had had a major operation in hospital who was transferred to a convalescent home, the Herman de Stern in Felixstowe, to recover and prepare to move back home.

I’m sure it was quite expensive – but it was much less expensive than staying in a hospital bed for several weeks.

Nowadays there doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as many facilities like that and people are left either blocking beds or sent home without the kind of care they might expect.

What is needed is for one organisation to be responsible for all these services – acute hospitals, nursing homes, and care homes for those who need long-term accommodation – so we don’t end up with the absurd position where one sector is blocking the other because they can’t afford to fund a cheaper alternative.

And until social care is taken away from the county and handed to an enlarged NHS free from local political control that will not happen.

As it is we’ll find social care will be used as a political football by local politicians hoping to be elected to seats in Endeavour House in this May’s elections – while professionals in the health and social care sector are left struggling to make ends meet.

Trading standards must maintain public confidence

Council trading standards departments fulfil a very important role for society – but it is vital they carry the public along with their job in protecting us against danger.

And these days there are far too many people trying to put down their work and claiming they are part of the “nanny state” or a symbol of “health and safety gone mad!”

So they need to avoid giving their detractors ammunition – a task Suffolk’s department forgot the other day.

It put out a warning about Booths supermarkets not listing all the ingredients of one of their sandwiches. It didn’t mention they contain egg or mustard.

Ever heard of Booths? I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t. They’re based in Lancashire. Their nearest branch to Suffolk is at Knutsford in Cheshire!

What were these sandwiches that didn’t list egg or mustard in the small print on the back? Egg mayonnaise!

That they contained egg was hardly hidden – and surely anyone who knew they had an allergy to mustard would know that the four basic constituents of mayonnaise are egg, vinegar, oil, and mustard (the vital emulsifier that is needed to bind everything together and give it its flavour).

Surely trading standards had something better to warn us about.


  • Thought provoking article Paul. At present I believe if a person entering local authority care has more than @ £24,000 in capital, including home, then they and the family of the person will need to pay the whole amount of their care . Thus depreciating their hard earned savings and destroying the inheritance for the family, when selling their house. Care and support services are means-tested and services are not free to everyone. The Care Act 2014 has put a limit on how much people pay towards the cost of their care. The cap of £72,000 for some reason has had its implementation delayed to 2020. I believe our government has got itself into a right mess in almost every one of its departments and now with the problem of Brexit it is overwhelmed and on the verge of capsizing. Please can we have a government that can cope!

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    Thursday, January 12, 2017

  • ....... good, common-sense article ....

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    Thursday, January 12, 2017

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