Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/747/15910
Who's neglecting society, Mr Lamb?
Happy New Year to NHS staff, patients and campaigners everywhere! Sadly, greetings cannot be extended to health minister Norman Lamb, who used New Year's Day to lament that ordinary working people don't do enough to help our elderly neighbours.
He told the Daily Telegraph that the "neglectful society" we live in drives the elderly into care homes. Perhaps the increasing life expectancy and rise in adults with long-term complex health problems escaped his attention. Clearly not, as he later said, if people were more neighbourly, it would reduce the burden on the state.
No-one is going to vote against human decency, but that's not what this is about. The government are set to announce plans to cap the amount that can be spent on an individual's care. Social care itself faces a long-term funding crisis. Elderly people and local authorities are being held to ransom by private care firms, squeezing profit out of old age. There is your neglectful society!
Britain has some of Europe's longest working hours. Women, who were traditionally looked to for providing care to family members, find flexible hours hard to obtain, and face penalties on their pay. They face hostile attitudes at work, as employers are reluctant to grant carers leave.
At the same time, the public services that maintain the fabric of our communities are being cut. Yet finger-wagging ministers lecture us for not providing care that should be available, freely to all, based only on your needs, not your ability to pay, or the niceness of your neighbour!
My great-grandparents' generation fought to create the NHS, removing the profit motive from health care.
What we need now is a nationalised care service. Private care homes and community based firms should be brought under public ownership, to provide top-quality, free, inclusive support to people getting older, whether in their own homes or not.
And finally... The Prince's Trust reckons that half of young people who can't find work are depressed. Can't imagine why. As if being thrown on the scrapheap before 25 isn't bad enough, they are demonised in the press as work-shy job snobs. Enough to mess with anyone's mental health!
The sad story shows why young people need to get involved in campaigns like Youth Fight for Jobs, to fight for a decent future.
In The Socialist 9 January 2013:
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