Thin end of wedge chipping away at the core NHS principle of health care that is free at the point of need

In October 2015 Yorkshire Ambulance Service was the first ambulance service to launch a pay scheme in partnership with a private provider. This private provider is Welbeing, a company selling telecare gadgets and services. Wellbeing and YAS have started a subscriber scheme for people living in Yorkshire and Humberside who can afford to pay for a 24/7 pendant alarm telecare service.

Independant™, the 24/7 pendant alarm telecare service, costs 69 quid to buy then 3.80 a week to run it….or 800 quid if you want super dooper service.  Apparently “A dedicated team will be alerted to respond to calls for help from subscribers and they will arrange for the most appropriate health/social care or advice to be provided to them.”

Our wallets are under attack from all directions these days. This is an attempt to sneak in a payment for a basic service that YAS can’t afford to do for free, so a private profit making company steps up and offers to do it cheap (to start with). Services like this should be part of the Care Closer To Home Programme being trumpeted by the Clinical Commissioning Groups. If they’re trying to cut admissions of elderly people to hospital they should be giving this service FREE.

Why is Calderdale CCG not commissioning this 24/7 pendant alarm telecare service so frail elderly and chronically ill people can have them on the NHS when they are going to be cared for at home, instead of in hospital because the acute hospital beds are being cut?

The YAS/Wellbeing charges to patients for this service is exactly an example of what happens when schemes like Care Closer to Home try and integrate means-tested social care and NHS services – it’s a sneaky way to erode the core NHS principle that health care is free at the point of need to everyone who needs it, and to start introducing charges for NHS services and limiting them to those who can pay.

This Care Closer to Home scheme  is all about cutting costs and dismantling the NHS. We’ve already started to see this happening.

YAS should be providing this service for free. The CCGs want to implement Care Closer to Home and keeping old people out of hospital should be a priority. This service should be part of that programme. FREE. This is how it will go now. Strangle and shut down services, then make people pay for them. So much for comprehensive care free at the point of delivery.

Of course means testing and charging for social care was the start (after prescriptions dentistry and opticians) of this slippery slope. Social care costs should and did originally come out of council and income tax. Look how we’ve accepted all those charges. Lambs to the slaughter. ..


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