Letter: High cost of care

IT IS prescient that Carers Week 2011 should coincide with the controversy over the question of care for the elderly in institutions, whether public or private.

Councillor Paul Edie (Perspective, 13 June) reminds us of the potential cost to the public purse if all voluntary care work was in fact paid. It is also important to ask what the cost of providing all institutional care by the public sector would have been in the past 25 years.

It may be unsavoury to some, but the private sector must continue to play a key role in this most sensitive area. The recent problems at Southern Cross, Ninewells Hospital and the Elsie Inglis home do not mean that a mixed economy of care is wrong. It does mean that there is a case for more effective inspection, regulation and monitoring of care wherever it is provided.

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Those who argue that only the health service, local authorities and charities should play a role in this area need to answer a number of questions. The first is the capital cost of providing buildings in which the service should be provided.

The second is whether liaison between the various public bodies to identify and provide places is effective enough.

The third is why abuse can occasionally occur in a state-run institution as well as private concerns. It is equally important to ask whether the voters are prepared to pay the price of raising the status and pay of carers wherever they work. The latter should engage the attention of all political parties and administrators.

It is a more positive cause for debate than the sterile one of whether all care should be provided in a publicly-owned building.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court

Glenrothes, Fife

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