Ten Days to Stop Jeremy Hunt Day 9 – Looking after the elderly

It’s the issue that introduced us to the phrase ‘weak and wobbly’ when describing Theresa May – the “dementia tax”. Social care for the elderly is one of the most important issues facing us in the next parliament and for many years to come.

Under the Coalition and then the Conservatives social care funding was slashed. 400,000 people are no longer eligible for any help with care costs, including many people on low incomes.

The Conservatives have not promised any extra funding for social care. Their manifesto contains a proposal to force older people to use the assets of their own home to pay for their care needs while they are still living at home.

Last year, Jeremy Hunt described our care crisis as a commercial opportunity. Banks will create “products” to unlock these assets when they die. In effect, it’s a “dementia tax” for people who are receiving care in their own homes. They will have to take out bank loans against their property to be handed over to the financial institutions when they die.

Promises of £100K bottom limits or unspecified caps don’t address the real issue which is that those unlucky enough to suffer catastrophic illness and long-term disability, such as severe Alzheimer’s, requiring long term care, will have to pay £ thousands while others who are fortunate enough to avoid illness will not have to pay anything.

It is a profoundly unfair proposal because it does not allow the pooling of risk. This contrast with health care where risks and costs are pooled: people pay in according to their means and take out what they need. This was Bevan’s vision when he founded the NHS and we need a social care system established on the same principle.

The National Health Action Party believes:

  • Social care should be free. That would allow it to be properly integrated with health care.
  • The Conservatives’ “dementia tax” should be rejected.
  • Local authorities should once again provide residential care homes to avoid dependence on the private sector.
  • Carers should be well paid, well trained and supported. 15 minute care slots should be abolished.

These measures are affordable by our society, one of the wealthiest in the world. It’s a matter of priorities: do we want to live in a society where the elderly are well cared for or one where they suffer poor or absent care and the fear of incurring huge individual costs should they need care?

 

Louise Irvine

Dr Louise Irvine, National Health Action Party

The candidate selected by Lib Dem, Labour and Green party members in South West Surrey to kick out Jeremy Hunt.

And if you want to help me protect your NHS from Jeremy Hunt, please contact us here. I’d be delighted to welcome you on board.

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