PERHAPS the country’s 6.5 million carers should form a political movement of their own.
It might be the only way to break the inaction and inertia that now shames Britain. For, while politicians on all sides continue to argue among themselves over Brexit, the country is crying out for leadership on a range of domestic policies from the skills agenda to the social care needs of an ageing population and also disability rights.
And it is inexcusable for the Government to keep playing for time by claiming that the new Green Paper discussion document will come up with “long-term sustainable solutions” and “measures to support carers”. Already long-overdue, this delay and dither is unsustainable when set in the context of a tweet posted by Danny Bottomley, a Leeds police community support officer, after a shift earlier this month. “Tonight I spent 45 minutes with a vulnerable elderly gentleman with severe dementia. He was extremely grateful to have some company and someone to speak to. We had a brew together and put the world to rights. Referrals made and he even complimented me on my tea making skills,” he said.
Human kindness, and empathy shown from people like this police officer, continue to mask the failure of the major parties to reach a consensus on care policy, its future funding and how more can be done to address societal issues like loneliness, demenita – and all those left behind, or forgotten, by a political system at Westminster which has become too remote, and insular, for its own good.
The goodwill of carers, and the sacrifices they make, has been taken for granted for too long. Without them, the NHS will collapse. Leaving services to chance, and hoping for the best, is not good enough. And it is high time that Ministers and MPs recognised this reality.