What a depressing week last week was when considering care in the UK, and this week is heading in the same direction.
A short week ago, I was about to return to my obsession with the number 7 in the world of care, dementia care, political manipulation (aka demoliton) of the welfare state – and I had planned to start blogging my own personal ‘Seven Story’ of the lack of care in the UK as my family has experienced it. I’ve decided to put that personal account on hold for now, because I have no wish to divert my attention away from the latest evolution of care in the UK.
1. First, I came across a ‘seven’ : Seven steps to driving down prescribing costs via Pulse and via the National Audit Office, but not necessarily in that order. A saving of at least £200million is the estimate. It’s not rocket science – so I’m somewhat amazed to discover that it needs a National Audit Office report to make seven ‘common sense’ suggestions.
2. Then, I came across a variety of written answers to questions in Hansard – 10 February 2011 Written Answers detailing meetings that Ministers and senior officials in Andrew Lansley’s department have had, since Lansley’s appointment, with independent sector organisations where Care UK representatives were in attendance. There are only 5 listed, and there are more to come – but the latest written answers haven’t appeared yet. But Grahame Morris did get a half-hearted answer from Simon Burns to his question as to how many health contracts had been awarded to Care UK in each month since May 2010 :
“We do not hold information centrally about local national health services and social care contracts. Primary care trusts and local authorities are responsible for their own contracting arrangements and decisions.
We can confirm that, as at the close of the last accounting period on 31 December 2010, the Department has not entered into any new contracts with Care UK since May 2010.”
John Trickett asked about the monetary value of the contract given to Care UK for the treatment of prisoners; and what assessment had been made of the compatibility of the award of that contract with procedures and guidance on tendering – another non-answer followed from Paul Burstow. It was the Hansard heading of Care UK: Prisoners that caught my eye. But more on that one another day, and I’m sure I’ll come up with more than seven!!! You can do the mathematics for yourself! I’ve done my sums already.
There are still more written answers to come – eventually – so we will just have to hope that they are answered, rather than fudged.
3. A serious case review found that residents of Summer Vale Care Centre, a Leicester care home for 26 people with dementia and mental illness had been “badly failed”.
“The report commissioned by Leicester City Council found patients were subjected to physical and sexual abuse from fellow residents. Summer Vale Care Centre in Mowmacre Hill closed in October 2009 after a whistle-blower alerted the authorities. A police probe uncovered 65 “sexual or concerning” incidents at the home. The force said just seven incidents had been reported to them prior to their 2009 investigation, three of which had sexual connotations. It is very clear to everyone involved with this review that all agencies badly failed the residents and their families.”
“There were lots of incidents and concerns and even though there were around 60 professionals involved in making sense of this information, all of whom agreed that something should be done, no-one asked searching questions and no-one assumed the lead role“, added Dr Margaret Flynn, the report’s author.
No prosecutions so far due to insufficient evidence, but one still pending involving a senior member of staff.
26 vulnerable people with dementia and mental illness v. 60 professionals who failed them, but not one single prosecution thus far.
And the best that Minster Care can offer is “It is regrettable that the quality of care at Summer Vale Care Centre did not meet the high standards expected by ourselves and the local authority partners, and deserved by our residents.” Note that the residents come last in that Minster Care statement.
4. The Report of Ann Abraham, Health Service Ombudsman on ten investigations into NHS care of older people is incredibly hard to read – not because of its language but because of the distressing content. It carries the title ‘Care and Compassion?‘ – and if you get to the end of it, you will certainly be wondering where the care and compassion were, and whether the NHS still knows the meaning of either word. The use of a question mark says it all. Just ten stories of neglect – ten desperately sad stories – and probably just a brief snapshot of the way our so-called civilised society has decided to neglect a whole section of the population.
5. Then, when you are trying to work out what the heck is going on, you read that “A Conservative MP and former GP who claims coalition Government whips attempted to gag her and prevent her from speaking out against the NHS reforms has warned health secretary Andrew Lansley he is ‘losing the profession’.
Dr Sarah Wollaston, the MP for Totnes in Devon, said she refused to sit on the committee of MPs considering the health bill after being told she could only take part if she agreed not to table any amendments and always voted with the Government.”
Gradually, it all becomes clearer. They’ve all lost the plot! And the only ones who will suffer are the older, vulnerable people in need of care. There’s no sign that Cameron and Clegg care much about the real world; they just won’t listen to any comment or criticism. I hope they open their eyes and ears and, more importantly, their hearts soon. This destruction is not necessary.
6. Today brings a report in the Daily Mail claiming that ‘Trespassing laws are to be used to evict elderly patients who ‘block’ hospital beds. Pensioners reluctant to go home – often because they are too frail or confused to cope on their own – will be given 48 hours to leave. If they refuse, NHS trusts will seek a court order for possession of their bed.
The ‘bed-blockers’ could even be forced to pay the legal fees incurred.’
Not being a natural Daily Mail reader, I hesitated before mentioning this report – but I know for a fact that this kind of ugly threat is being carried out.
Frail and confused? That normally means older people with dementia. And that is precisely the situation that I have in mind: someone who has been in hospital now, waiting for the NHS and the PCT and the Local Authority to get their act together and carry out the required assessments so that one 87-year old can leave hospital. The 87-year old can’t carry out those assessments himself, and neither can his family. The 87-year old can’t care for himself, and neither can his family provide that care. But that is precisely what the NHS and the PCT and the Local Authority are wanting. Meanwhile, they are threatening eviction. Well, bring it on!! Let it happen – and then we’ll name and shame you all. Meanwhile, his family are complying with every single request that comes their way – but every question they ask is being ignored. So perhaps we have arrived at a One-Way-Street of Care in the UK.
7. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Street Workhouse – originally built in 1775 and the likely inspiration for Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist – is under threat. ‘Complete redevelopment of the workhouse site has been proposed. If these plans go ahead, this important historical building will be totally demolished. A very large-scale private residential development, quite out of character with the street and its historical surroundings, will take its place.‘
But if the thugs in the ConDemOlition Coalition get their way and demolish everything in sight, we may well see a return to the Workhouse. So perhaps The Cleveland Street Workhouse needs to be preserved and renovated for future use.
Well, that was an unplanned Seven and certainly not a Magnificent Seven.