Letter: Two-tier help for the disabled

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Sir: The uproar in the Commons over NHS discrimination against elderly patients (15 April) is made all the more astonishing by the fact that both parties have been aware of, and have condoned, a two-tier system since at least 1983.

Until recently, health and social security were both part of the same department, the DHSS. Between them they set rates for disabled people needing residential or nursing care. Those rates still apply to people admitted to care before the NHS and Community Care Act was implemented in April 1993.

Simply stated, they mean that someone who was disabled before the age of 65 will be entitled to as much as pounds 68 per week more to pay for residential care than someone disabled on the day after their 65th birthday. The actual rates are pounds 262 per week under pensionable age and pounds 194 per week over pensionable age.

This means that care homes are required to deliver 26 per cent less to the older residents than to the younger ones and none of us is sure whether this should be deducted from their food, warmth, or the number of staff we employ to help them. Is it not ironic that this story should have broken on the day we celebrated the 90th birthday of Sir John Gielgud? With many thousands of older people, he has clearly demonstrated that life can restart at the age of 65 and should not be ended or down-

valued by an ageist attitude to care.

Yours faithfully,

GEOFFREY C. ATKINSON

Chairman

Occupational Benevolent

Funds' Alliance

Sunninghill,

Berkshire

15 April

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