Tom Richmond: Contempt where empathy is needed over care crisis

Does Sajid Javid care about the plight of the elderly?
Does Sajid Javid care about the plight of the elderly?
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SYSTEMIC flaws in health policy were plain to see when Communities Secretary Sajid Javid played down the social care crisis when questioned by MPs this week.

As the Ministers spoke, acquaintances were looking after an elderly relative who had been discharged from hospital as he approaches the final furlong in his struggle against cancer.

There was no advice on mobility or diet – the gentleman concerned, sound in mind, has lost his appetite – and they were waiting to see if one of the cancer charities could provide physical, practical and emotional support.

Yet, pressed repeatedly about care of the elderly, and how this was impacting on the NHS winter beds crisis, Mr Javid – the former Business Secretary – appeared in total denial about the problems and, regrettably, his own leadership responsibilities.

In response to Hull MP Diana Johnson, he said an extra £900m was being made available after town halls were given licence to raise council tax bills by three per cent. Why is it that Tory-led Surrey County Council now proposes a 15 per cent tax rise to pay for adult care?

A question from Tory backbencher Michael Fabricant on the importance of good management in local authorities – a valid point in fairness – prompted an endorsement for the former John Lewis chief executive vying to become the elected mayor of the West Midlands. Where did that come from?

And Merseyside MP Bill Esterton’s call for £4,6bn previously cut from social care funds to be reinstated, and how hospitals often struggle to release elderly patients medically fit for discharge, led to a repeat of the £900m commitment. Where’s the other £3.7bn?

So it went on, one of the lamest and most contemptuous performances at the Commons despatch box in a long time. I know it’s not easy, Britain’s indebtedness is compounded by an ageing population and I again implore Theresa May to accept recent invitations to work collaboratively with the chairs of the health, public accounts and communities select committees.

As for Mr Javid, he has a simple choice – does he want to be part of this process? If so, he needs to start showing far more pragmatism, urgency, humanity, compassion, care and empathy. It’s also time he, too, led by example, starting by spending a week working as a carer. Then his outlook might change.

ON a related subject, NHS England hired a suite at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Leeds city centre on Wednesday for some kind of management seminar.

Has this organisation money to burn while patients wait hours on hospital trolleys in A&E for treatment? I can’t believe it did not have a spare conference room at its Leeds HQ – or could not utilise any other public sector building in the vicinity for free. Three words for chief executive Simon Stevens: Get a grip.

THREE intriguing elements of Theresa May’s Brexit speech have gone largely unnoticed.

First, the Prime Minister says the final deal will require approval by both Houses of Parliament, yet the Tories do not have a majority in the Lords. Does this mean more unelected peers being parachuted into the Upper House?

Second, the Tory leader said “not only will the Government protect the rights of workers’ set out in European legislation, we will build on them”. How? If Mrs May provides some detail, she has another opportunity to outflank Jeremy Corbyn.

Third, Mrs May noted the submissions made by the Scottish Government, and that a paper was imminent from the devolved Welsh administration. Who is doing the same on behalf of Yorkshire?

IF Theresa May – and not David Cameron – had re-negotiated Britain’s membership of the European Union, I’m sure she would have won far more substantive concessions from Brussels and that the outcome of the June 23 referendum vote could have been different.

Now I look forward to the PM calling the bluff of the First Minister of Scotland over independence. Having said a second referendum was “highly likely” if Britain left the EU single market, Nicola Sturgeon appeared to waver and said, after Tuesday’s speech that such a scenario was only “more likely”.

It’s simple. The notion of independence is totally at odds with Ms Sturgeon’s vision of Scotland being a fully-fledged member of the centralised EU (if its membership were even approved).

Furthermore, do the Scots really want this as well as giving up the generous financial windfall that they receive via the Barnett Formula? The SNP can’t win, they’re a busted flush. Over to you, Mrs May.

THERESA May’s speech appears to have enhanced her standing in the Tory party. “I welcome the Prime Minister’s – I nearly said Her Majesty’s – speech,” former business minister Anna Soubry, told the Commons.

The response of Brexit Secretary David Davis made me smile. “I often make the same mistake; it is probably why I am where I am.”

No wonder the Prime Minister and Brexit Secretary have become unlikely allies.

DRIVING into work last Sunday morning, the contrast could not have been greater – no one was working on 
the various Leeds roads that have been dug up by Yorkshire Water and the 
rest of the public sector, while a 
small army of tradesmen were on site 
at a soon-to-open Premier Inn hotel (private sector).

How about incentives to get road repairs completed in good time so delays can be reduced?

ONCE again, the BBC was obsessed with the weather and the fact that it was a couple of degrees below freezing in London earlier this week. Perhaps they should experience a Yorkshire winter – or read the memoir of shepherdess (and mother of nine) Amanda Owen to learn what life is really like in the wilds of the country when it gets really cold.

To farmers and their like in these parts, minus two on a bracing January morning – it’s winter for the benefit of the scare-mongering BBC, Met Office and Daily Express – is the equivalent of a heatwave.