Care homes; NHS; Privatisation; profit and Care!

I have been thinking over the last weeks, [some would say that makes a change, others would wonder if I can], about care for the elderly and disabled as well as the NHS and privatisation.

Lately we have had a couple of bad examples of care homes in the headlines, and we are always getting reports of problems in hospitals and you have to wonder why. So that is why I have been thinking.

So is all this new, well no it has happened in the past but seems more prevalent these days, that could of course be down to more media but I don’t think so. This type of story always made for good headlines and these days it is only a few media groups which really do this type of reporting anyway. So therefore it seems to me that there is more of this lack of care in the caring organisations going on.

I have a friend who has spent the last 20 years or so either in the DHSS; working as a nurse; running care homes or working for the care commission and its predecessors.  Having listened to him over the years and seen various situations arise in the news I think I have a reasonable grasp on this.

For me I think that a lot of the troubles we have in this area is down to profit. When most of the hospitals were either charities or state run, when care homes were run by the local people [council] or charities there primary aim was care not profit. Now I am not saying all private care is bad just that with owners and shareholders wanting to maximise there profit there is a tendency to drive down costs by employing the cheapest workers, cutting back on non essential care like activities etc. By employing the cheapest and lowest number of workers who in the main have little reason to do the work carefully, after all they are not valued so why should they be expected to value others.  Yes these institutions are supposed to be inspected, but the relevant inspectors rarely  manage once every couple of years and now most inspections are done by paper and phone exercises.

So what do we expect from private profit before care, no physical inspections and low paid workers?


So what to do?

Well first off inspect more.  Pay the staff better and make sure there are enough well qualified staff.  make sure that no group can be taking profit from hospitals or care homes, they are a service not a product. Allow locals to have good access so that there is less secrecy and therefore less change to do these bad things.

Finally respect and love for those in these places, the sick, old and infirm.  Love should be uppermost not profit.  After all we can all end up there at some point isn’t it worth getting it right?






4 responses to “Care homes; NHS; Privatisation; profit and Care!

  1. The profit is actually a disadvantage in its own right, if you do not have to make an economic return on your (enterprise, gov’t or charity) capital you can provide a better service (e.g by re-investing it. However, you do forget that resources are limited in both NHS and private hospitals and need to be managed effectively as well as the care. In fact good management would engender the best of both, will purely inspection regimes are rather last resought.


  2. True Alan, resources do need to be used carefully, and it would be nice if inspection wasn’t needed unfortunately peoples short term greed seems to make it needed. After all in one of the latest cases it was selling off your homes to rent them back at increasing rent which has caused problems..


  3. You’re missing two key points. Firstly, cost of elderly/sick care homes is huge and growing. NHS pays only a small portion of care costs. Remainder is paid by clients or their families. Challenge for NHS will continue to rise as people generally live longer and are not fully cared for by family. Balance of workers to retirees also beginning more adverse. Secondly, basic care work is unskilled so attracts low wages and UK people are unwilling to work for such low wages so majority of care workers are foreign (and I’ve experienced some great care from these people at homes my mum and dad have been in). Given these two points, public management can lead to the usual poor focus on cost and second rate delivery, whereas private management can bring efficiencies and cost management (and doesn’t have to result in excess profit and money taken out of the system – the profit can come from removing costly waste!).


  4. Dave I agree, as I said that much care is good, however some is not. I would think that basic care requires some skill and they should be treated as such, treating them as mere servants isn’t a good way to inspire good care in my view. I also agree that waste can be the source of the companies profit just in general it’s not as once they have cut it they want to make more. I have a freind who has worked as a manager and for the inspectorate so I know what he has said about this. He as a manager was always under pressure to keep cutting his budget which was cut each year anyway, so the owners could take more profit. He rarely had enough to even employ the legal minimum of skilled staff let alone support staff. So holidays and sickness totally messed up the legal ratios.


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