YP Comment: Don’t leave care of the elderly to chance. They deserve better

Care of the elderly must not be left to luck.
Care of the elderly must not be left to luck.
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THIS newspaper’s editorial on September 15 challenged the Government – and other agencies – to treat carers as community champions rather than commodities. It was in response to two major reports which revealed the extent to which the specific needs of the elderly, and immobile, depended on goodwill, and luck, as a result of staff shortages and spending restraints.

Neither Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, nor Leeds-based NHS England, have chosen to respond, a short-sighted approach which epitomises their entire approach when it comes to the National Health Service and social care policy. Yet, as experts predict a winter beds crisis, it is this serial neglect of the elderly – and the care profession – which will compound the pressures confronting hospitals across this region.

Take today’s report by Carers UK. Failings in GP out-of-hours cover, a haphazard service at the best of times, and district nursing, mean one in five carers have to take their loved one – or patient – to hospital as a last resort. The consequence? A&E services coming under even greater pressure – and invariably having to provide the type of care that should be readily available in the community.

Not only is this a false economy at a time when NHS resources are already stretched to breaking point, but it shows the extent to which Ministers and policy-makers are prepared to take the work of carers for granted. Perhaps they need to be reminded of the fact that the contribution made by carers in the UK is estimated to be £132bn a year according to the last piece of research, a sum which equates to two HS2 railway lines by way of comparison. Expecting local councils to plug the gaps is not feasible – they simply don’t have the resources. That is why a national plan for the care of the elderly now needs to be one of the Government’s top priorities – leaving such an important issue to chance must not be allowed to suffice.

A breach of trust

IT remains to be seen whether a formal call by South Yorkshire’s crime commissioner Dr Alan Billings for suspended chief constable David Crompton to resign will make any difference – the police chief did confirm in March his intention to retire in November, having delayed the timing of his departure for a year in order to deal with the fallout from the Hillsborough inquests and various CSE inquiries.

Yet, given the extent to which trust in the embattled force has been eroded by a succession of scandals, and given Mr Crompton’s apparent refusal to accept that his police force’s legal team had caused unnecessary distress to the families of the 96 Liverpool fans crushed to death at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final, this saga must now be brought to a swift end so the new chief constable, Stephen Watson, can start coming to terms with the fallout.

Even though the delivery of Mr Crompton’s apology after an inquest ruled in late April that the Hillsborough victims had been unlawfully killed could not have been more crass and insensitive, thereby precipitating his suspension following the overturning of this 27-year miscarriage of justice, equally damning is the extent to which he appears to have kept his own crime commissioner in the dark about the seriousness of the complaints lodged by families of ‘the 96’. Without a fresh start, and without trust, it will be even more difficult to regain the confidence of the most important people of all – past and present victims of crime. However one final point must be made. Contrary to perception, this troubled force is not rotten to the core – such a statement does a disservice to those exemplary police officers who are working so hard with the public to uphold the law – but it does appear to remain rotten from the core. It’s a key distinction.

Are we European? Golf and the Ryder Cup

ONE hundred days after Britain voted to leave the EU, it’s ironic that Britain – and golf fans in particular – will be fully paid-up Europeans for the duration of the biennial Ryder Cup over the next three days.

Though this will test the allegiance of the more noted Eurosceptics, even Nigel Farage was prepared to endorse team Europe two years ago – and that this still offers the best chance of the Sheffield duo of Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick winning golf’s greatest team prize.

After all, Great Britain and Ireland were no match for the all-conquering Americans before teaming up with a new wave of European players, headed by the gladitorial-like Severiano Ballesteros, in 1979. An emotionally-charged event at the best of times, this is one occasion when the politics should be left for the 19th hole.