Long term care for older people

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7353.1534 (Published 29 June 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1534

Increasing pressure for change

  1. Iona Heath (pe31@dial.pipex.com), general practitioner
  1. Caversham Group Practice, London NW5 2UP

    See also News p 1542

    Long term care is a reality for thousands of frail older people, a source of great anxiety for many more and, across the developed world, a political hot potato that shows no sign of cooling. The heat is fuelled by two factors. Firstly, current government policy in many countries is widely perceived to be unjust, with older people themselves paying an ever greater proportion of the costs of health care. Secondly, the rising percentage of older people in the population, while fuelling doom laden economic projections, is inexorably increasing the power of the older vote, producing democratic pressure for change that is gradually intensifying. This week's changes to the funding of long term care in Scotland will further intensify this pressure (p 1542).

    Very shortly after winning power in May 1997, the New Labour government in the United Kingdom sought to deal with the problem by appointing a royal commission to examine the options and to recommend how the costs of care should be apportioned between public funds and individuals.1 In June 2000, after delaying a decision for more than a year, the government refused to implement the commission's most important …

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