Have you heard the good news? People in the UK are living longer. More of us are surviving into our 80s and 90s and beyond.
That’s fantastic – a testament to the success of the NHS, the welfare state and the post-war consensus that saw living standards improve for everyone in Britain in the decades after the Second World War.
How sad though that this cause for celebration is being portrayed as a disaster waiting to happen. The lurid headlines of national papers tell us that the nation’s health and social services are on the brink of imminent collapse due to the ‘demographic time bomb’ of pensioners demanding to be looked after in their old age. It seems to be overlooked that these same pensioners worked and paid taxes to fund the services that some now need. I was at a local NHS event recently where an older lady said she feels as though she has to keep apologising for being such a burden on the rest of us!
Yes there is increasing pressure on health and care services, but the real problem, yet again, is perverse government spending priorities. The current NHS reorganisation will cost £2-£4 billion, money that should be spent on health care. Whatever happened to Dave’s pledge of no top-down reorganisation of the NHS? And don’t get me started on the cuts that Eric Pickles is imposing on councils, which mean that people have to be frailer before they begin to get help from social services.
In Derbyshire, under a Conservative county council, we have seen major changes to the way social care services are delivered. Charges have been introduced for the home help service and residential homes, including Derwent House in Chesterfield, are being closed. Although the council has conducted statutory consultations, there has not really been a proper attempt to establish what older people want.
So I want to hear from you. Derbyshire Labour are hosting a planning care for the future event in Alfreton on Saturday 24th November from 10am to 3pm. Phone 07712 241470 for details. Let’s work together to get this right.
Labour Group Leader