Thursday, 11 February 2010

Putting posters over personal care

If there is one issue that requires a cross-party consensus, it is social care for the elderly. As the numbers of older people continue to grow with medical advances, it is both a costly and long-term issue that doesn't lend itselt to crass sloganeering and cheap political advertising. So it was good that the three parties were prepared to sit down to discuss the issue. And it is quite frankly inconceivable that any solution will not involve a contribution, through insurance or otherwise, from those who would benefit from a more equitable system of social care.

One idea is that there should be a deduction from pensions, another that we might emulate Singapore's stakeholder funds, and another that homeowners should leave a fixed sum to the state upon their death. All have their strengths and weaknesses. But no sane person would want to rule them out and whinge if others declined to do so. Yet that is precisely what the BMA spokesman and shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley appears to have done. By not allowing a potential cross-party agreement on social care to develop, simply so that he could preside over a juvenile poster stunt, confirms that this man is simply up to any great office of state. As older people continue to sell their homes to fund social care, perhaps Mr Lansley could console them by explaining that their plight is worth it because it has made for a topical poster.

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