Thursday, 2 June 2011

Quality Social Care and the Profit Motive

I am watching Questiontime. Simon Jenkins has just waded into the debate about the appalling abuse of mentally disabled patients in a social care home in Bristol, as exposed by Panorama this week, by stating that the problem is caused by the profit motive..

Oh. dear. What a shockingly ridiculous assessment.

But he is not the only one. Someone in the audience has just said, 'Every time you put the profit motive into anything the quality of service goes down.'

Staggering ignorance.

To pretend that this problem is caused by capitalism or can be cured by socialism is totally naive. It is shocking that people are still trotting out these ridiculous arguments in 2011. These are the arguments of the 1970s.

Some of these problems are caused by essentially socialist organisations trying to implement capitalist solutions and expecting magic results. When local authorities commission services from the private sector and expect the fact that they make profits to ensure quality of service they miss the point.

Commercial competition will drive value and quality of service only if the consumer has choice or if the provider is paid for the level of quality of service they provide.

The answer is not just proper 'oversight' - i.e. ensuring that 'acceptable' standards are met by payment by results - preferably on a sliding scale.


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