Where is the voice for the frail elderly?


The future of Southern Cross and the potential impact on those in their care is very distressing. The company’s business model shows investors at their worst – asset stripping and high-risk contractual agreements (that embarrasses ethical investors) – and the Southern Cross Board must take responsibility for the mess they are in and the resulting uncertainty  for its residents.


Yet the unfolding drama raises some important issues.


Firstly, as a nation we do not yet have a clear enough strategy for caring for the increasing numbers of frail  elderly people. Hopefully this will be rectified with the impending report on the funding of Social Care – it will require a bold and immediate response from government.  A note of caution, we cannot expect the State to pick up the cost. We cannot afford it not because of recession or cuts, but because tax rates would have to sky-rocket to meet the needs of the growing elderly population and proportionally fewer people paying tax.


Secondly, while private companies are criticised and indeed they should be for  poor decision-making, it is of concern that local councils, who tendered out the services, appear not to have applied  due diligence, or put in place sufficient governance arrangements to ensure that the business model was sound.


Finally, the outcry over events at Southern Cross is tepid compared to the angry exchanges seen regarding GP commissioning and the role of Monitor.  In this light it could be construed that the wrangles over health were more about professional self interest, terms and conditions than healthcare itself.  The future shape of social care is in many ways a more important debate, yet it appears that the frail elderly have less of a voice and few professionals speaking up on  their behalf. The quote that we used in our report ‘Take Care’ should be taken to heart:

Gail Beer and Julia Manning




About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social entrepreneur, writer, campaigner and commentator. She is based in London and is the founder and Chief Executive of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal. Through networking, technology, research, relationships and campaigning 2020health has influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. Julia studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991. Her career has included being a visiting lecturer at City University, a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital, working with south London Primary Care Trusts and as a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. She specialised in diabetes (University of Warwick Certificate in Diabetic Care) and founded Julia Manning Eyecare in 2004, a home and prison visiting practice for people with mental and physical disabilities using the latest digital technology, which she sold to Healthcall (now part of Specsavers) in 2009. Experiences of working in the NHS, contributing to policy development, raising two children in the inner-city and standing in the General Election in Bristol in 2005 led to Julia forming 2020health at the end of 2006. Julia is a regular guest on TV and radio shows such as BBC News, ITV’s Daybreak/ GMB, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions, BBC Radio, LBC and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week. She is mum to a rugby-mad son, a daughter passionate about Shakespeare, and wife of a comprehensive school assistant head-teacher. She loves gardening, ballet, Zimbabwe, her Westies Skye and Angus, is an honorary research associate at UCL and a Fellow of the RSA.
This entry was posted in Elderly, Social Care and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s