Socialist Party
| Print

8 December 2010

Don't let profit become the bottom line in care

FOLLOWING A BBC South 'Inside Out' programme in October that showed the moment in January 2009 when a nurse switched off a ventilator that led to a disabled man being permanently brain-damaged, film of the incident went 'viral' on the internet.

A Unison member

The victim, Jamie Merrett, a former plumber who was paralysed in a car accident in 2002, received care at his home in Devizes, Wiltshire which was funded by his local primary care trust. Before the 2009 incident Jamie used a ventilator both day and night, but like many who are tetraplegic he lived independently, operated an electric wheelchair on his own, and used a computer.

Media reports painted his personal situation partially in tragic tones. But examples, such as the writer and academic Mike Oliver and BBC radio producer and New Statesman blogger Victoria Brignell, illustrate that tetraplegia itself is not a barrier to a full and varied life.

Rather it is social factors such as access to personal assistance or care workers, accessible housing and transport, high-quality health services and comfortable living conditions that are key. The tragedy of Jamie's situation is that a lack of support was not a factor, but rather the way it was delivered.

Because of his concerns, Jamie had set up a camera above his bed to record how he was being cared for. After his ventilator was switched off, the BBC film showed the nurse and a second care worker panicking as they did not know how to restart it. The nurse tried to manually resuscitate Jamie using an Ambu bag, but failed to connect it to his tracheotomy. 21 minutes later, paramedics restarted the ventilator.

As someone who uses ventilation at night, I am aware of how critical it is that my helpers do not alter the settings on my ventilator. I am fortunate that the health element of my support is delivered through my local authority care package so I am able to use the same personal assistants all the time.

They are therefore familiar with the various pieces of equipment I use, and follow my instructions and respect my approach to personal care matters.

In Jamie Merrett's case, he used agency staff from Ambition 24hours. The assumption is that agency staff have the skills to follow a care plan and use any equipment. The fact that both the nurse and care assistant could not restart the ventilator demonstrates this assumption is wrong. Equipment and personal care routines differ from person to person. Therefore training and shadowing should be carried out first.

But the resources are simply not available to do this for agency based care packages that already cost in excess of 90,000-100,000 a year.

For many years I have used the British Nursing Agency (BNA) for cover when my personal assistants are on holiday or are sick. Recently I rang my local office to find I was speaking to someone based in South Africa. BNA had been taken over by the A24 Group and its administrative operations merged with Ambition24hours. The local BNA office had closed.

Whilst the South African staff are always friendly and diligent, workers in a local office get to know both their staff and disabled clients over time, and understand which workers are the best match for particular disabled people.

In a globalised world where capitalist companies are looking to cut costs, moving administrative functions abroad to countries where labour costs are much lower makes sense to them. Profit is the bottom line. If this can happen with an agency, it is easy to imagine how the administrative side of local authority social services could go the same way.

Jamie Merritt understood straight away the gravity of his situation and made clicking sounds through his face mask to warn the nurse and care assistant.

For severely disabled people, small mistakes can be catastrophic as the impact on Jamie shows.




http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/10771




Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

triangle20 Jun Save our NHS

triangle20 Jun Rolls Royce: fight all job cuts!

triangle20 Jun Desperate divisions in Tories - Corbyn and unions must act

triangle20 Jun 1000 issues of the Socialist: A vital weapon standing in proud...

triangle13 Jun No to Trump and Tory racism

triangle13 Jun Civil service pay strike ballot: vote yes!

triangle13 Jun How can we fight for trade unions that fight for women?

More ...

WHAT'S ON

triangle23 Jun Tower Hamlets Socialist Party: Karl Marx walk

triangle26 Jun Manchester Socialist Party: Who are the 'alt-right' and how do we stop them?

triangle27 Jun Harrogate NSSN: Fight austerity in Harrogate

triangle27 Jun Salford Socialist Party: The abortion rights victory in Ireland

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

What we Stand For

About the Socialist Party

Our 2015 election manifesto

Joining the Socialist Party - what will it mean for you

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999