Letter: Who should pay for care of the elderly?

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The Independent Online
Sir: The plans of Stephen Dorrell, the Secretary of State for Health, to encourage the elderly towards provision for the cost of their own care may spur members of younger generations into action while they still have time and money; but Mr Dorrell offers no comfort to those already requiring care, or on the brink of such need. For them, time and money have run out.

My wife has been in hospital since suffering a major stroke two years ago. She will require round-the-clock nursing for the rest of her life, but new and stricter guidelines, published last month, and a long-running programme of bed closures, threaten the security of those who, until a few years ago, would have continued to receive in-patient care from the NHS. In my 65th year, I am unemployed, arthritic and with a heart problem. What philanthropic insurance company is going to take us on?

After combined working lives of around 80 years, my wife and I believed that we had paid our dues by way of National Insurance contributions and income tax, but now the policy appears to have been cancelled. Is this a fair deal? Or must we regard ourselves simply as members of a lost generation, to be written off by the Government as a wasting asset?

Peter Orr