I am struggling this morning to stop thinking about the horrific scenes broadcast last night on the BBC Panorama programme about the Castlebeck facility outside Bristol. If you didn't see it just look here for a sample of the most disturbing programme I have seen for a long time. This 'hospital' seems to have been staffed by thugs, left unchallenged by professionally trained people and unseen by an absent management who may care more for profit than for therapy. They - and worryingly the CQC - ignored the whistleblowing of a senior nurse. We should not have to rely on investigative journalists with hidden cameras to expose this kind of treatment. As somebody involved in health and social care I feel personally implicated and ashamed that the system fails our most vulnerable people and their families.
And with the imminent failure of Southern Cross, no wonder the NHS pause has had to take on board a widespread fear about 'competition' in the NHS. Why do we think it a good thing to profit from the care of our most vulnerable citizens. If really good care can be provided at a profit, why are we not capturing this to invest for the future care of our aging population? The debate about health and social care cannot just be about how we afford the future, but about what kind of future society we want to be. It is at the core of our humanity, surely, to care for the most vulnerable amongst us. We cannot allow a system which enables a few to profit at the expense of those who most need our protection - can we?