Anger Mounts At Neglect Of The Elderly
The Government was accused yesterday of ignoring the plight of thousands of Alzheimer’s sufferers as anger continued to mount over state neglect of the elderly. In a scandalous betrayal of the most vulnerable, a growing number are being forced to plunder their savings, and even sell their homes, to pay for nursing care when they become old and ill.
But critics have claimed that Alzheimer’s sufferers are particularly at risk of falling foul of the flawed system because of the nature of their
illness. Under the present rules of “continuing care”, a person can receive free nursing if their needs are proved to be “medical” rather than “social”.
But because Alzheimer’s is considered a mental illness, their needs are regarded as social and very few sufferers qualify for full benefits. As a result, thousands have had to sell their homes to pay for care, even though they have paid into the NHS all their working lives.
Earlier this week, the Daily Express highlighted the case of a former police officer who fought a six-year battle with his local health authority after his mother was forced to sell her home when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
The Torbay Trust, in Devon, claimed she did not qualify for continuing care, but her son, former Scotland Yard detective Mike Pearce, forced it to repay more than £50,000 of the cash he had spent on her care.
The Government is reviewing the system. It plans a national standard for continuing care, rather than the present “post code lottery”.
But campaigners say much more needs to be done to give Alzheimer’s sufferers a fair deal. Alzheimer’s Society policy head Andrew Chidgey said: “The current system is a shambolic policy. We do not accept what the Government says about health care being free. If you suffer from cancer or you need a hip replacement, your needs will be met by the NHS.
“But if you suffer from Alzheimer’s, a physical disease of the brain, your care will not necessarily be free. The Government tends to view this whole issue as being about middle-class people wanting to hang onto their inheritance. That is completely wide of the mark. We are not against people contributing something towards their care but the system needs to be fair and balanced.”