No breaks for carers (part 2)

There are two reasons why I don’t like answering machines; firstly, I always tend to leave rambling never-ending messages and secondly the answering machine appears to mangle my voice in a cruel distortion. Or at least that is what I tell myself as I hear some dour, dulcet Scottish tones droning on. Despite my fear of these three Ds, I agreed to do two radio interviews last Friday (7th) about how Primary Care Trusts are not providing breaks for carers with monies given to them intended for this.

In April, English PCTs were given £50m among them to provide breaks for carers, but this money was not ring-fenced. Furthermore, PCTs were not told how much of the £50m each would receive; rather it was slipped into their total allocation without any information given. Unsurprisingly, some PCTs have been left confused, others deny that they have received any new money and only a laudable minority are pledging to spend all of their allocation on carers.

Given that the Government made a fanfare of committing new money to provide breaks for carers, the media smelled a story. BBC Radio Five Live Breakfast was first up and BBC Radio 4’s Today programme also covered it. The Guardian amongst others then picked it up for their website and the final request saw me being asked to appear on George Galloway’s Radio TalkSport programme at 10:45pm that night.

This was actually one of the longer interviews of the day and was followed by many people and carers phoning in to talk about this issue. One of the questions George asked me was why carers aren’t a stronger campaigning group given their large numbers. There could be a few reasons for this: not every carer actually realises they are a carer; carers are not a homogenous group but rather one made up of all ages and backgrounds; and finally that there isn’t just one magical answer to the problems facing carers.

However, carers should have a greater voice and as an election approaches, it is incumbent on us all to make candidates and political parties aware that people may actually choose to vote dependent on how they treat carers. A good place to start would be for any new Government to give detailed information and guidance to PCTs regarding next year’s £100m funding of breaks for carers, and ask them to publically report on their spending of it and what services they are providing to meet the needs of carers.

If they don’t then they could be subjecting the country to my dour, dulcet voice droning over the airwaves again. Surely nobody would want that?


August 10, 2009 - Posted by | Health | ,

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