The collapse of cross party talks on social care dominated the non-tennis news agenda over the weekend, serving as a curtain raiser to the inevitable acrimony around this week’s social care white paper.
The Sunday Telegraph said that ministers had apparently agreed “in principle” to cap the amount people should pay for their care while delaying an announcement on how this would be paid for.
The Financial Times tied the issue to a broader story about long-term funding for the NHS. Conservative party and health officials believe prime minister David Cameron will fight the next election pledging real-terms increases for the service.
But will that include the £2.2bn extra annual cost of implementing the Dilnot commission recommendations for social care funding? Government sources will not be drawn, although the Treasury has not yet worked out how to pay for it.
Will there even be an NHS by the next election? You might have thought there was no point in keeping it if you read Monday’s Daily Telegraph. Eleven medical employees were suspended in Walsall, it said, after a patient collapsed and died on a hospital doorstep. Staff allegedly walked on by.
The same paper also reported a warning from keyhole surgeons; that they were having to work in outdated theatres amid the omnipresent funding squeeze.
Meanwhile, the front page contained a story about hospitals “letting patients die to save money”. Tens of thousands of patients are placed on a “death pathway”, deprived of food and drink to hasten their end – sometimes without having first given consent, it claimed.
And it wasn’t only the Telegraph frightening readers. The Daily Mail reported accusations of hospitals creating “a ‘two tier’ health system”, in which “those who can afford to pay get ahead while the less well-off suffer”.