If the Care Bill is to successfully reform elderly care, then the issue of underfunding by local authorities when purchasing care places must be addressed.
The Care Bill is being debated in the Commons on 10 March and is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve care – introducing greater equality, affordability and transparency. These principles are supported by professionals from across the care sector.
However, as is well known but seldom discussed, councils frequently pay rates to providers which do not meet the true cost of providing care. This creates a shortfall within the system which limits investment in staff and facilities.
The Care Bill risks exacerbating this problem. Councils will be arranging care for more people, meaning even more care places will be under-funded. Without a system which requires local authorities to pay fair rates for care, care homes will struggle to provide secure, sustainable and quality care. The central tenets of this Bill – transparency, fairness, and quality – are in jeopardy if the local authority funding question goes unanswered.
We hope that MPs will have the fortitude to tackle this issue in the House.
Professor Martin Green, CEO, Care England, London E1
The worrying concerns around service gaps that face Britain’s older people are rightly highlighted by Age UK in its Care in Crisis report. The funding shortfalls underlined in the report are disturbing, given that the need for services will continue to grow alongside our ageing population.
Age UK’s report follows a recent study from Anchor and the International Longevity Centre-UK which revealed that we are not only confronted by a funding shortfall, there is also a workforce deficit that we need to tackle.
One million more care workers will be required by 2025 – a gap which needs to be bridged and funded correctly. Government, care providers and the NHS need to work together to ensure the crisis in social care is averted.
Jane Ashcroft, Chief Executive, Anchor
David Sinclair, International Longevity Centre-UK, London WC2
One of the most unpleasant features of the old workhouse system was the separation of married couples into male and female sections.
Recent government legislation for newly built care homes appears to repeating this cruelty by insisting that only single rooms can be installed.
Obviously, towards the end of life, it is better for couples to be together for mutual comfort. My wife (17 years of MS) and I, aged 74, are looking to move from our house into a home, preferably modern rather than some rambling converted vicarage. For medical reasons we have to sleep in separate rooms.
The best we have been offered is two single rooms, sometimes adjacent but with no connecting door. Any call (by intercom?) from my wife at night means leaving my room, going along a corridor and entering her room.
Who dreams up these rules, and why?
Dr Eric V Evans, Dorchester, Dorset
Police response over Lawrence
We read (8 March) that, following evidence that the family of Stephen Lawrence was spied on, “Commander Richard Walton, head of the Metropolitan counter-terrorism command, has been temporarily transferred to a ‘non-operational role’ ”’
Why hasn’t he been suspended from work? A teacher facing any suspicion of professional misconduct would immediately be suspended. As would a doctor.
The police fail to recognise just how seriously damaging all this is to the public’s trust in them.
What we need is successful prosecutions of rogue police officers, not inquiries, reports, Royal Commissions and the like (Letter, 8 March).
We have endless shock, hand-wringing and promises to get rid of the bad apples by Home Secretaries and Chief Constables, but who ends up being found guilty in court?
There have been over 1400 deaths in police custody since 1990, but no successful prosecutions of police.
Why should any police officer be deterred from corruption when there is apparently no chance of being found guilty?
Rod Auton, Sheffield
After failed badger cull, a way forward
An independent review of the badger cull has declared that it failed in terms of effectiveness, and humaneness. For those of us following every detail of the culls, this is sadly no surprise. The basic story is that they didn’t kill enough badgers to meet the scientific requirement that would give the cull even a small chance of reducing bovine TB in cattle. And those they did kill, they did badly – with up to 18 per cent of the badgers taking over five minutes to die.
But it’s not the time to dwell on what has been a disastrous policy. We need to look to the future – a future in which farmers need an answer to bTB, which is devastating cattle herds. And a future in which badgers are not scapegoated or slaughtered. There is such a future – in Wales, they chose to vaccinate badgers and bring in tighter farming practices, and in the past year have seen a massive 33 per cent fall in the number of cattle slaughtered.
Their way is the right way. I have just been appointed CEO of the Badger Trust, in addition to my role at Care for the Wild, and a new President of the National Farmers Union has also been elected. For the sake of all the farmers who desperately need a solution, I will be reaching out to the new NFU President to say “Let’s work together’, as together, farmers and wildlife supporters can beat this disease, without having to beat each other.
Dominic Dyer, Care for the Wild International, Horsham West Sussex
What Russia fears in Ukraine
The events in Ukraine have their origin in the final days of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. Then the Americans gave a promise to the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, that Nato would not expand east to Russia’s borders.
This promise was not honoured and Nato drew in 12 former Soviet and Warsaw pact countries. Further, America carried on the Star Wars programme, which the Russians always felt was directed at them. In effect the West carried on the Cold War against Russia, and America financed and backed the 2004 Orange revolution in order to secure an anti-Russia, pro-Nato government in Ukraine.
The Crimea belonged to Russia until 1954 and 60 per cent of its population is Russian. Russia doesn’t want Nato nuclear weapons on its borders any more than Kennedy wanted nukes in Cuba, and this in part explains Putin’s motives.
What Russia has done may be illegal in international law but as yet not a single Ukrainian soldier or civilian has died.
More light in the evening
Paul Dormer (letter, 6 March) is right that nothing involving clocks can make any difference to the length of daylight anywhere, but he should remember that starting his first school lesson in the dark allowed him to kick a ball around in daylight after school ended.
The length of daylight of a place is determined by the time of year and its latitude; its longitude determines the start and end times of daylight, which get later by westward progression. Much of France and almost the whole of mainland Spain lie to the west of the Greenwich meridian. They are on Central European Time (CET), an hour ahead of us. In winter, Britain’s Western European Time (WET) deprives those whose schedule is dictated by the clock of an hour’s daylight in which to play or walk a dog after school or work. Only Ireland and Portugal are sufficiently far west for Western European Time to be appropriate.
To go on to CET in line with the rest of Europe would gain Britain more daylight for outdoor activity after school or work.
Peter Kellett, Kinlochewe, Ross-shire
A slur on bankers
D J Walker (letter, 7 March) points out that the suggestion of “whinge” as a collective noun for bankers gives rise to a “most vulgar but appropriate” spoonerism. Vulgar certainly, but is it really appropriate? After all, bankers generally abuse everybody but themselves.
Professor Guy Woolley, Nottingham
Playground in the Great War trenches
It’s good to know that someone has found the trenches from a First World War training camp in Gosport, my home town. If anybody had asked me 60 years ago, I could have given them a guided tour, because it was where I used to play soldiers with my friends. It was pretty good for showing off your skills as a stunt rider on your bike as well.
John Williams, West Wittering, West Sussex