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Southend Hospital had been planning to run a pilot of the so-called ‘Care BnB’ scheme – but has backed down amid criticism.

The Conservatives’ latest privatisation bid for the NHS is about getting poor families to do the jobs of qualified nurses – and seems to be a cynical attempt to take advantage of the plight of Bedroom Tax victims.

The scheme – dubbed ‘Care BnB’ in imitation of the ‘Air BnB’ model it resembles (although other organisations have already adopted that name, so it isn’t entirely suitable) – would see patients discharged after operations and sent to nearby homes to recuperate, with those renting the rooms receiving up to £1,000 a month.

Isn’t it handy that a legion of people have been pushed into poverty by the Tories’ Bedroom Tax, which took 14 per cent of their housing benefit if they were deemed to have one spare bedroom (25 per cent if they had two). How much persuasion would they need to join this scheme?

It is ‘nudge’ politics at its most insidious.

But what would £1,000 a month do to these people’s overall income? How would it affect any other benefits they receive? Would it provide enough to survive? All these factors would also need to be considered, of course.

The scheme is being piloted by a private company, of course, calling itself CareRooms. So money would still be siphoned away from the National Health Service and into the bank accounts of business executives.

But we are told it will still be cheaper than the current situation.

Another concern is the quality of care that the patient would receive. Members of the public are not qualified nurses and have their own lives to lead. What if a complication develops and nobody is there to notice? Who would take the blame if a patient died because the resident was otherwise occupied? It may seem unlikely but I would want these issues hammered out before I went anywhere near such an arrangement.

Criticisms are already flying:

Call me a wild free-thinker if you like but I’d rather believe the expert opinion of a doctor than the amateur assumptions of a politician, or a profiteer.

ADDITIONAL: The hospital that was planning to pilot the scheme has backed away from it, amid criticism from politicians and health groups.


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