BUPA, the private medical services provider, was criticised severely by the judge in Liverpool crown court during a case brought against one of the company’s managers. While passing sentence Judge Mark Brown spoke of BUPA’s culture of putting profits before patients.
“It is clear from the evidence presented during the trial that the nursing home was run very badly and that there was a great deal of under-funding and cost cutting. This impacted significantly on the resources that were available which meant there were often inadequate staffing levels and the unit itself was filthy and the premises in a tired and dilapidated state.”
From my own dealings with BUPA care homes, I can agree that the BUPA homes are underfunded and understaffed. BUPA care workers are, in my experience and in general, hard working, underpaid people who do their best for their residents in suboptimal conditions. The work is hard and demanding, and the pay is poor. BUPA pay careworkers at or around the national minimum wage, and unit managers only a few pounds an hour above this, despite the immense responsibility involved. Further, disciplinary action can be harsh. Those determined to have transgressed can be marched, disgraced, off the carehome site. It also appears that whistle-blowing is poorly tolerated.
With the British government’s rush to sell off the NHS to private companies, – a rush to turn patients into corporate commodities – is this the future of healthcare in the UK?