There is, as Paul Goodman
grim tide of stories about the vulnerable — and their maltreatment — in the papers today. Perhaps the most disgraceful is the case highlighted by last night’s Panorama, of the abuse
suffered by adults with learning disabilities at a specialist hospital in Bristol, which has led to "http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8549228/BBC-Panorama-care-home-investigation-four-arrested.html">four arrests. But there is also the slow financial collapse of Southern Cross, the
country’s largest care home operator. The FT’s Jim Pickard has a useful summary of the situation "http://blogs.ft.com/westminster/2011/06/ft-westminster-guide-to-southern-cross-care-homes-crisis/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ft%2Fwestminster+%28Westminster+Blog%29&utm_content=Twitter">
here. But the basic point is that if Southern Cross shatters, then over 30,000 elderly people will be relying on other groups, landlords and councils to pick up the pieces. There is a lot of
tragic potential in that uncertainty.
Political questions and difficulties abound, not least the urgent matter of what provisions the government can put in place for those 30,000, if any. But, in the longer-term, it’s worth keeping an
eye on whether this becomes a catalyst for consensus: with all the parties finally working towards
a solution for the funding of social care for the elderly. Or divide: with Labour and the Lib Dems using Southern Cross as an example of the dangers of profiteering in the care sector more
specifically, and the health service more generally. In either case, this is a crucial moment in the life of the coalition so far.