Is freemarket ‘thinktank’ just a front for the corporate care home sector whose neglect allowed Covid to kill?

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has an ‘observation paper’ ie no actual research, just opinion, arguing that the Scottish Government’s plans to standardise care across the country will only make things worse.

They argue:

Does anyone think that NHS health boards should be broken up and shared amongst local councils? Does anyone think that a national care system should spend extra in some areas and less in others, based on ‘discretion?’

I don’t know who funded this report but it suits the corporate care sector who make billions in the UK, who pay the lowest wages and who avoid tax wherever they can.

We know from the Covid experience that a bit of standardisation, ie raising standards in the private sector, is just what we need.

After the first wave, the charitable MHA with a presence in Scotland did research into its own homes and discovered this: Large numbers of staff could have been unknowingly spreading coronavirus through care homes, according to the UK’s largest charitable care home provider. Data from MHA shows 42% of its staff members who recently tested positive were not displaying symptoms. Nearly 45% of residents who had a positive test were also asymptomatic. The MHA Chief Executive said: I think it’s very difficult not to see that the only real way that this can have come into our homes is through staff picking it up, just through the community contacts they would have had. I think that is what is so hard for all our staff, because they care. But if they don’t know they’ve contracted the virus, how can you manage this?

Then a large ONS study of 9 081 care homes in England found this: These emerging findings reveal some common factors in care homes with higher levels of infections amongst residents.These include prevalence of infection in staff, some care home practices such as more frequent use of bank or agency nurses or carers, and some regional differences (such as higher infection levels within care homes in London and the West Midlands). There is some evidence that in care homes where staff receive sick pay, there are lower levels of infection in residents.

And from Public Health Scotland as early as October 2020:

45.2% of the 275 privately-owned homes had an outbreak compared to 27.9% of the 41 local authority and 12.5% of the 32 voluntary homes.

That, on its own is a shocking comment on the infection control standards in the private homes and a newsworthy note on the performance of the voluntary sector.

90% of the largest 46 homes, with more than 90 residents, had outbreaks. That all of these are owned by large corporations is not reported in the data but given what we know about the demand for profit margins and economies of scale in that sector we can be sure that they are.

That too is a shocking indictment of these corporations. What is required now, going beyond the report, is an investigation of infection control and related matters in these places, including any evidence of careless use of agency staff moving between homes, of insecure contracts causing staff to be fearful of taking time off with symptoms and of failures in training and in the ordering of PPE.


2 thoughts on “Is freemarket ‘thinktank’ just a front for the corporate care home sector whose neglect allowed Covid to kill?

  1. The only true freemarket is the criminal one. Once a government is involved you don’t have a freemarket, usually thankfully. Adam Smith understood that, the issue is when governments think they are creating a ‘freemarket economy’


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