This is a continuation of my previous post commenting on the Sunday Times Insight investigation into the Government/ NHS handling of the Coronapop crisis.
At the beginning they were focused on preventing the NHS from being overwhelmed, which is understandable given what had already happened in Italy. They succeeded, but at quite a cost both financially and in older peoples lives.
Then our “leaders” became rabbits in the headlights of the media. Questioning their every move and picking up on every mistake. The holier than thou Laura Kunsberg, the sarcastic Robert Peston and the ever right Piers Morgan. Add to this a leaky Cabinet and a multiplicity of scientific uncertainty. Not a great place for calm considered decision making. More an environment for headless chickens and off the cuff action.
Gradually we got the situation under control. Our hospitals were underwhelmed and we had paved our way from a health crisis to a financial crisis. The phoney war was over but the real war was still to begin. That is why we need to wake up and learn some lessons, beyond the media frenzy and without the ever-present blame culture that obscures reality.
Older people are still at risk both from Corona virus and from ageist attitudes in the health service. Nor have we addressed the poor standards in Social Care. It is not just about money. Extra money is needed in social care to pay for higher training levels and higher wages for staff, but it is usually siphoned off to pay for greedy venture capitalists.
Which brings me on to the second headline in the Sunday Times, which is about a takeover bid for McCarthy & Stone. This too sees older people as a commodity, in this case for a US investment company called Lone Star. McCarthy & Stone were the leading private sector provider of retirement housing until they lost interest in older people and just became a business to be traded on the Stock Market. They had a market value of over a billion pounds before Coronapop came along, but now they are valued at nearer half that. Lone Star have bid £630million, which means older people are still worth something, but not as much as they used to be.
These guys are just gamblers, they may make money but they will do little to improve the lives of older people.
It is the same callous attitude that sees older people as a commodity to be exploited. We are all to blame for this approach, we need to reappraise what we value most.