Union delegates call for free personal care

Delegates voted unanimously in favour of a motion opposing the
“artificial distinction” between nursing and personal care at
public sector union Unison’s annual health conference,
writes Katie Leason.

Not a single delegate voted against the motion on long term
care, which expressed concern over the government’s refusal
to implement the recommendation from the Royal Commission on Long
Term Care for the Elderly that personal care be available on the
basis of need, free at the point of use and be paid for from
general taxation.

The motion, which was submitted by Exeter Community Health,
described as “wholly unacceptable” the charging of older and
disabled people for essential personal care, and said that means
testing for personal care should be ended.

The distinction “demeans” the work of nurses and care
assistants, indicating to care assistants that their work is not
recognised by the state, the proposer of the motion explained.

In his address to the conference, Dave Prentis, general
secretary of Unison, called for tough new regulations to protect
overseas nurses from exploitation in the private care sector.

Unison claims to have already “rescued” around 200 Filipino
nurses from private care homes over the past year and found them
jobs in the NHS. However, it now fears that nurses coming from
India are being targeted by private care home owners.

“The NHS has recently revised its code of practice on
international recruitment to prevent this type of abuse happening
within the health service, this code should be extended,” said
Prentis. “Unison is calling on the home office and the department
of trade and industry to adopt this code, and ensure that owners of
private nursing homes can no longer exploit overseas nurses.”



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