Cameron’s Solution to our Ageing Population: Let Them Die

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Figures released yesterday reveal a sharp rise in deaths across Britain last year, predominantly of women over 85 in the poorest areas.  Sheffield University’s Professor Danny Dorling, who studied the numbers suggests the data may portend the first fall in British life expectancy since the Second World War. Cameron and his government are solving the problem of our ageing population by withdrawing the life support of properly funded, qualified and committed care services for old people.

The ‘Mystery’ Rise in Deaths

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The figures for England and Wales were taken from the Office of National Statistics, and for Scotland, the General Register for Scotland.  They showed a 5% rise in deaths above ordinary numbers, and it was poor, elderly women that accounted for the majority of the rise.

But this should come as no surprise.  It was exactly what researchers predicted in 2008, after extensive research revealed that the health inequality gap (the difference in life expectancy between rich and poor) in Britain was already bigger than it was during the Great Depression of the 1930’s.  Their review of deaths between 1921 and 2007 revealed that poor people were dying more often and younger than richer people, and at an ever accelerating rate. Although life expectancy was rising overall, persistent socio-economic inequalities meant that the life expectancies of the poorest failed to keep pace with the average.  Writing in the British Medical Journal at the time, the University of Bristol and Sheffield researchers stated:

“By 2007, for every 100 people under 65 dying in the best-off areas, 199 were dying in the poorest. This is the highest relative inequality recorded since at least 1921.” They added “The economic crash of 2008 might precede even greater inequalities in mortality between areas in Britain,”

Therefore it should come as no surprise that if poor people were dying at twice the rate of rich people six years ago, that this final stage of the neoliberal apocalypse of our public services would have exacerbated the situation – exactly as we were warned it would, back in 2008.

Old People are not the Problem

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Whilst this affects everyone, it affects the elderly the most.  By 2009, the UK’s elderly were already the fourth poorest in the EU, behind Romania, with a third of all over 65s living in poverty. Things have only gotten worse.

The elderly have now joined the ranks of the sick, the disabled, the young and the unemployed as a ‘problem’ demographic to our government.  Essentially, anyone who isn’t in full time work and earning a taxable income is considered a burden – a drain on the system in these times of austerity.

This entire line of argument is simply absurd.  Our economy needs to fit the demographics it exists to serve, not the other way round.  If a person’s shoes are too tight, they need bigger shoes.  Using this government’s logic, the person would be asked to hack off their toes.

The privatisation of our core services – energy, transport, utilities, social care, residential homes, and nursing homes – has meant that the cost of living, especially as an elderly person, has risen exponentially.  It costs a lot to be old now because we thought it was a good idea to allow people to profit from our most basic requirements – warmth, food and water, shelter and care.

In the UK today over 90% of all care home provision (up from 61% in 1990) to elderly people is in the independent/private sector after the public sector was encouraged to outsource provision in an effort to cut costs.  The same period has seen an astronomical rise is the cost of care home places.

Today, the average cost of a single room in a care home has risen to over £27,000 a year.  This is higher than the average UK annual wage (£26,000) and more than double the average annual pension income of £13,208.  In fact since 2011, care home costs have risen at twice the rate of inflation, whilst standards of care have slipped.

Elderly people who had paid for their homes in the hopes of leaving an asset for their families, have had to sell their homes simply to have their most basic care needs met for the final years of their lives.  It is estimated that 40,000 elderly people a year are selling their homes for just this purpose, in aims to cover the average £100,000 care home costs to cover the final years of their lives. Whilst the coalition plan to implement a £75,000 cap in the contributions a person makes to their care home costs, a) they have stalled the policy until after the next election and b) it won’t include accommodation costs, which are the bulk of the issue.  This is no help at all.

One might expect that for these breath-taking sums we might have the finest care homes in the world.  Yet, last year, the regulatory body for the UKs care homes The Care Quality Commission (CQC) published a damning report that showed that more than half of all elderly and people with disabilities in care homes were being denied basic care.

The report showed that people suffering incontinence were waiting more than two weeks for a consultation on their condition in more than 40% of care homes for the elderly surveyed.  One might think perhaps this was some failing, but this was classed as success; 40% of the care homes surveyed set themselves a target of 90 days (that’s three months!), to make such a basic check up for a resident.

More worrying is that the data used for the study only covers 2010, so does not even take into account the sweeping cuts implemented since. This is the sorry state of care the elderly lived in prior to the ideological austerity we have seen sweeping the UKs public services. Things did get worse; over 40 care homes were closed down by the Care Quality Commission last year for providing substandard care including: verbal & physical abuse of patients, medicines not being managed safely, poor sanitary conditions and a lack of medical and nursing care.

Not only are our impoverished elderly dropping like flies, but they are dying in the most appalling conditions.  Just one of the women over 80 in these statistics would have been 81 year old Gloria Foster, who suffered a lonely and excruciating death from starvation and thirst, trapped in her own bed, having been left without her essential care for nine days.

The Cuts and Sell Offs Continue Apace

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In the same week that Mrs Foster lay dying as a result of failures in the care system, Birmingham City Council announced crushing half a million pound a year cuts of provision of home care for those like her.  Birmingham is not alone. The Mayor of Bristol approved the Council’s decision to close eight of its eleven council run care homes in January this year, and in February two further closures were announced in Peterborough.

In fact the same wave of closures is taking place in Haringey, Anglesey, Maldon, Argyle & Bute, Ilkeston, Derby, and many other towns and cities up and down the country as austerity drives council’s to cut costs despite growing need.

Meanwhile, the private sector is not picking up the slack as promised.  There has been an overall drop in care homes places of more than 4% since the Coalition took office, meaning a little under one in every twenty care homes in the UK has closed. Most of this has happened quietly, but there have been notable large scale closures such as large care home companies such as Southern Cross going into insolvency.  This has largely been blamed on the failure of local councils to afford the rises in the costs of care brought about by high property rents and other increased costs.

However, surely the bigger problem is that this important service was ever abandoned to the whims of ‘market forces’ at all.  If we built and owned the care homes, changes in rents would make no impact on care costs.  If we properly integrated the care of elderly people into our state social care system, we would not need to meet the rising prices of external providers trying to make ever increasing profits.  If the care of elderly people was a matter for all of us, under the responsibility of government, we could better hold people to account for their failures.  Instead we have abandoned our elderly people to the whims of market forces; they suffer the indignity of not having their most basic care needs met and have to sell their homes for the privilege.

Even if elderly people are healthy enough to avoid the nursing home, they face stark choices such as whether to eat, or heat their own homes due to astronomical rises in energy prices.  These are people who have worked over 40 years, paid their dues, many even fought a war on our behalf – for this?

It’s the Economy, Stupid? It’s a Stupid Economy

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The neoliberal model of privatised, for profit, core services simply does not work.  Any system which has us seeing living longer, healthier lives as some kind of problem is no system worth having.  Labour sought and failed to address the problem of profiteering by ramping up the provision of state support, so that tax payers funded the profits.  The Coalition are simply cutting that support and leaving the elderly to go cold, hungry and, more quickly, to die. Both these scenarios are ultimately unworkable and undesirable from both an economic and a moral perspective. Are you willing to live in a country which abandons its elderly?  If not, then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do something about it.

Get Involved!

Campaign to End Loneliness – an inspirational idea to create connections between the generations and put an end to loneliness in old age.

Compassion In Care – seeks to ensure that care is compassionate across the country, check out their website to see how you can support.

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27 thoughts on “Cameron’s Solution to our Ageing Population: Let Them Die

  1. Pingback: A world of difference… Creators not Consumers | Creators not Consumers

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  3. Reblogged this on Traditional Christianity and commented:
    Let me try this reblogging thingamagiggy. I’m now following this excellent UK blog, and thought I’d give you a sample of their writing. They also have an excellent article on the phenomenon of “zero hours” jobs.

  4. Pingback: Cameron’s Solution to our Ageing Population: Let Them Die | Benefit tales

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  7. i’ll soon be among those dying and for what? Maybe in my next life i’ll be just a normal person, not disabled and able to afford things, i’ll be dead inside a year, good riddance to the lot of you!!

    • Well I am not as quite in your Situation, I am still not that old, but getting there, and still very able. But I very sorry to say, I feel the bloody same as you. Someone in your position must be going through hell, as my life is crap enough. In fact I am beginning to think this is HELL, when I see all the lack of care, empathy and greed that’s about. I am more than sure your next life; I know will be bliss and eternal freedom from any such garbage we suffer on this hideous plan of existence. God bless you !

      • Good on you Norm, for your empathy, the status quo and others, has a lot to answer for, I think they created hell for many or maybe most people, what could be a amazing journey coming in to life as a human form, even a treasured existence is often manufactured by individuals that are able to use malice or vindictiveness as all part of their tool in trade, the question why? is and has been a vexation for me all of my life.

  8. I took early retirement, and was looking forward to spending time with my family and friends. I started my working life at 16 yrs, and following 40 years of early get ups and hard slog, imagine how I felt when the Government in their infinite wisdom decided it would be a good idea for people born after April 1953 to wait until they 65 to receive their state pension. I was one of the millions this affected, and as a consequence I have been forced to return to work. As if not to rub salt in the wounds the free bus pass and winter heating payments will both be phased out by the time I reach the age of receiving my pension. Thanks very much, never mind I might even have passed away by the time I should receive my pension. So I would say this “Cameron’s solution to our ageing population, keep all the state pensions to pay benefits to the thousands of immigrants who will soon be coming here and also, lets work them to death”. I would like to add that the work I do is not skilled and can be done by either sex and there is no age requirement do if you’re 16 or 60 you could do this.

  9. Pingback: Cameron’s Solution to our Ageing Population: Let Them Die | Research Material

  10. What Cameron dislikes of the aged is they see through this inept front man, also the people of Britain have to some extent allowed these people to run this country, you have to be on constant guard against these types of inept freaks to run the country, they are self serving and after what ever they can get out of the system, corruption and these vindictive snobs are all bad news.
    They are a type of robot a sort of half human form but half virus, they are dead as a life form but require a host to live off or on.

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  13. The removal of the special gas tariff for disabled and elderly people may well have something to do with this. It is well known that elderly people have a diminished sense of when they are getting too cold, and also that they are scared of the bills they will face, and will turn off the heating. The removal of this rate will have affected people in the most recent exceptionally long winter. Few people seem aware that this happened, they always seem to think that pensioners are really well off and over-privilieged. The truth is they are hit badly by cuts too. Lots of them face cuts to care, so they are getting less carer time, and carers have less time in which to spot problems. Transport to and from hospitals and other services has also taken a hit. I saw a very elderly lady in A&E last year, following a fall, no-one seemed to be responsible for her, she was parked in a wheelchair, awaiting transport home for eight hours, in which time she was given one cup of tea. She was still there when I left, and it was only the ordinary people awaiting triage who saw that she got something to eat.

  14. This is shocking! Actually, I have been shocked about the way the elderly are treated in this country for a while now (it made me decide to run my half-marathon on behalf of the Cinnamon Trust this year) but thanks for clarifying once again – and so comprehensively – how awful the situation really is.

    You make a very important point when you say that the argument that “anyone who isn’t in full time work and earning a taxable income is considered a burden […] is simply absurd. Our economy needs to fit the demographics it exists to serve, not the other way round.” I completely agree! I have heard a related argument recently that our governments need to protect the basic rights our society was built on; the idea(l)s about what it means to be a citizen of a society and, essentially, a human being. I would suggest that growing old with dignity and respect is one of these ideas and for a government to not only label parts of society “a burden” while failing so spectacularly to support and protect the most vulnerable members of society is completely unacceptable!

  15. This is beyond belief, i do not understand how the human race can do this to their own. The world has gone mad with greed and power. The poor disabled and now the old are to be persecuted to fill the needs of the greedy and power mad. Lets hope and pray there will be change before too many people die. And what happened to N.I contributions, was this not brought in to pay for pensions, yet we still pay this. My father fought for this country like many others, just glad he is not here today to see just what he fought for. Not to mention the old people today still alive that fought for this country and what do they get, nothing in return.

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