Letter

Editor,

Problems with Care?

John Mellor (letters August 26) is quite right to flag up the problem for elderly who need care. He is also right to point out that England gives the worst deal of all the UK countries. But I would like to correct one small detail.

The NHS in Shropshire as in the rest of England is more than happy to offer first class treatment to the elderly. There is no age-barrier to admission, and no age-barrier to treatment.

The problem arises when the services of acute hospital care are not needed. Patients may be discharged home without care, transferred to a Community Hospital thirty miles away, or they may have to pay for their own care in a nursing home. As we have recently heard this may mean that someone is forced to sell their home to pay for residential care.

There are two issues here. The first is the artificial division between Social Services and Health Care. Care from social Services is means-tested, the budget is inadequate and was recently reduced by Shropshire County Council.

The second issue is that Shrewsbury has a desperate need for intermediate care beds: a Community Hospital for Shrewsbury. Yesterday evening I attended a meeting with a hundred senior doctors from around the County, both Consultant and GPs; this desperate need for beds was one of the agreed concerns. We will only get these beds if we demand them and if we demand a fair share of funding for the NHS in Shropshire.

As to the question of state funding for social care, the Liberal Democrats are the only major political party to propose a “Care Guarantee” which would entitle all older people to a personal care payment, based on need and not the ability to pay.

I hope that many others will, like John Mellor, ask canvassers: “Do you intend to follow the last government, and force me to sell my home to pay for care?”

Yours,

Dr Charles West
Shrewsbury and Atcham Liberal Democrats
3 Bellstone
Shrewsbury
SY1 1HU
tel:   07775 800744

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