A civilised society needs civilised care

PROVIDING appropriate care for those who need it - either because of age or infirmity - is vital for a civilised society.The case of Masie Dickson, who is ready to return home but cannot because there is not the care available, shows up the difficulties faced by the current system.

PROVIDING appropriate care for those who need it - either because of age or infirmity - is vital for a civilised society.

The case of Masie Dickson, who is ready to return home but cannot because there is not the care available, shows up the difficulties faced by the current system.

The lack of care means she has to stay in a hospital bed - costing the state much more than if she was able to return to her own home.

But because the cost of her care comes out of the NHS budget rather than the county council budget, Suffolk council tax payers benefit.

This situation is plainly wrong. There has to be a better, unified, dignified, structure to take care of elderly, vulnerable people.

It is nonsense that one organisation can effectively offset its costs to another - and leave vulnerable people like Masie caught in the middle.

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Surely the time has come to give one organisation the responsibility - and the budget - for caring for elderly people, whether in hospital, residential homes, or in their own home.

That way there would be incentive for one body to try to shift the cost to another.

There could also be far better co-ordination - and should free up beds in acute hospitals much more quickly, allowing more people to be treated much faster.

The current situation cannot be tolerated - this buck-passing strips people like Masie of their dignity and has to be tackled as a matter of urgency.

POLITICIANS may claim that a 3.7 per cent increase in council tax for Suffolk residents is below average - but it is still considerably more than inflation.

And crucially it is more than the rise most families are likely to see in their pay packets this year.

Coming on top of increasing energy bills and rises in the cost of basic foods, this is likely to force many families to tighten their belts.

Today we highlight the strains these rises can impose on a family by looking at the Hammonds who live in the Bixley area of Ipswich.

While councils like Suffolk have to consider the needs of the county - and especially vulnerable people - when providing services, they must never forget the pressures on those paying the bills.

Of course any family with growing young children will see their cost of living increase, but the rises announced so far this year will put extra strain on the family budget.

WHEN smoking was banned from enclosed areas last summer, many people were delighted that they could go to the pub or restaurant and not emerge smelling like an ashtray.

But there were concerns at the introduction of this law that smokers could be driven away and hit pub profits,

Now that factor has been blamed for the closure of one pub and threats to others in Ipswich.

Evidence elsewhere - in Scotland and Ireland - suggests that eventually the pub market will settle down but these are clearly worrying times for everyone involved in the pub trade.

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