“The Coronavirus spotlight is being focused, quite rightly, on our vulnerable older community living in residential and nursing homes. Living together in larger numbers, they are always going to be at greater risk”, says Hugh Scullion , the Party’s representative in the South Derry area.
“The disastrous Health and Social Care Act of 2012 was designed to privatise health care, break the NHS into fragments, and to open up services and support to competitive tendering”, he said.
“The outsourcing of public services to private companies is a model in disarray. Having privatised large parts of our health care service, the government, through austerity measures, have made even more impossible to deliver adequate levels of care.
When the private sector can no longer maintain standards and turn a profit it is always left to the NHS to pick up the pieces”, Hugh said
“This process has been in train for over 30 years and the current structure is deeply embedded.
In 1979, 64% of residential and nursing home beds were still provided by local authorities or the NHS; by 2012 it was 6%.
The trend, especially in the residential sector, is for small operators to be replaced by large provider chains, some, owning more than fifty care homes, which in turn house up to a hundred residents each. How many residents actually consider these large establishments as home”?
“Although home-care services should be further developed and resourced, there are times when a person can no longer be safely cared for in their own home”, Hugh pointed out
“Surely, as part of our provision of care for older people, the NHS is capable of establishing smaller family sized care facilities that meet the needs of the residents and that they and their family can recognise as home”, he said.
The Coronavirus Pandemic has brought into sharp focus the disastrous consequences of privatisation of our elderly care service.
One of the legacies of this pandemic must be to rebuild care homes to meet the needs, comforts and safety of the residents and not the profits of large conglomerates”, Hugh concluded.