CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Privatisation has delivered a grim fate to our elderly

19 November, 2020

‘Camden’s elderly residents deserve more’

THE upheaval at the St John’s Wood Care Centre is in many ways a fitting end to the chaos and confusion of 2020, (Vulnerable told to move out before Christmas after care home is sold, October 19).

For months during the two lockdowns, relatives have been denied access to their loved ones in what must have been an unimaginably difficult period for all concerned.

Now, with weeks to go until Christmas, they are contending with a new nightmare as dozens of residents are shipped out ahead of a year-long closure.

Dementia is a beastly syndrome. Confusion reigns at the best of times. Relatives exist in a permanent state of grief, demoralised and exhausted. A familiar surrounding, or nurse, can be the only small crumb of comfort.

The true impact of Covid-19 on care homes has, throughout the pandemic, been hidden from public view.

It is no surprise that the home’s new owners, and its operators, have failed to respond to our questions about the sale and closure this week. This contrasts sharply with NHS-run hospitals which have at least been open to scrutiny.

Around 15 years ago, St John’s Wood Care Centre was owned and run by the care company Southern Cross, once the largest provider of homes at the time.

Its spectacular collapse in 2012 led to a string of smaller firms taking over the helm, typically running a threadbare service to maintain profits for shareholders, while investment companies have set about creaming-off profits from sales of the building.

The Care Quality Commission last November declared the home to be “unsafe” and put it into special measures, an inevitable consequence of this race to the bottom.

Camden’s elderly residents deserve more. It is nothing short of a scandal that so many have been left languishing in a failing home for so long. Privatisation of the care industry has failed them. It’s time to bring it back under public control.

Long division?

SIR Keir Starmer’s decision to bar Jeremy Corbyn as a Labour MP could spark a historic split in the Labour Party.

It has happened before. But in the 1980s it became a battleground between the leadership and a relatively small number of dissidents, known as Militants.

This time a large proportion of the half-a-million members are followers or supporters of Corbyn which puts Starmer on the knife edge of a conflict that can only end badly for both sides.

Sir Keir Starmer

Starmer, it seems, is determined to assert his leadership whatever the cost. He has no doubt given this a lot of thought, and, one way or the other, a gauntlet appears to have been thrown down.

Here, we have not so much a split as a kind of duality with two groups vying for leadership.

Starmer, logically, would have calculated that eventually members will turn to him – in order to oppose a government that they see as failing so palpably to cope with the pandemic as well as a failing economy. In such a maelstrom the nation loses out.

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