Elderly not so cheerful

THERE is already concern about the Lansley/Cameron reform of the NHS, particularly because of the potential for ‘cherry picking’ by private medicine.

This has already occurred in aftercare as evidenced by your glossy booklet ‘Because We Care’.

All the elderly folk portrayed therein may very well smile and even laugh because, to a man/woman, they appear comfortably off and could afford the hourly rates for home care of: Mon-Fri- £15.80. Sat-Sun-£17.30. Public Holidays- £31.60 & £34.60. [prices from an unsolicited A4 advertising brochure posted to me].

The elderly I’ve seen in hospital outpatients recently have not been so cheerful nor as photogenic.

December 2010 was one of the worst times in all my life. When you are suffering the after-effects of surgery you do not want the additional problem of trying to find home help.

Unlike the co-ordination within the NHS whereby soon after my homecoming I was visited by the wonderful district nurses, I was phoning this and that organisation/company that I had been told about or I had found advertised in yellow pages and junk mail magazines etc.

My mum, on becoming a 50 year old widow, had to get a job – a local authority home help. When TB put paid to my career in the Ordnance Survey, I found myself working as maternity and child welfare, ambulance and family planning clinic clerk in Rochdale Borough Health Department. I shared an office with the home help organiser.

So, in those days, getting after care was easy; just go to your local council.

In addition to being uncoordinated, private after care is inefficient and, although in theory prices should be competitive, the service is not value for money.

A friend in the Midlands is a home help who is paid £6.30 an hour ie 40% of the aforesaid weekday hourly rate of £15.80.

Therefore, seemingly, more is spent on administration and fancy advertising than on the actual hard, difficult and occasionally unpleasant, messy job of looking after the sick and elderly.

Furthermore this inefficiency is multiplied by the number of after care companies in the locality. If they were amalgamated there would be one administration and the costs saved, particularly on advertising, could be put to practical use.

I did get help, from a very amiable voluntary worker from a national charity to which I was pleased to give a donation.

HARRY MOUSDELL

London Road

Ashington