A North Devon care campaigner has made a heartfelt plea to Boris Johnson and says the Prime Minister was saved from Covid for a reason – to reform the broken social care system.
John Barrass, from Bickington, has written a personal letter to Mr Johnson urging him to take action to transform the system.
He wants it to begin with a national ‘conference’ of politicians from all parties, health and care experts as well as care charities.
He says they need to address fatal flaws in the current system, which will not be solved by throwing money at it, but by restructuring it completely.
Social care has been in the spotlight recently, with NHS England boss Sir Simon Stevens saying it needed to be reformed ‘within a year’.
Meanwhile, comments by Mr Johnson have sparked fury after he said ‘too many care homes didn’t really follow procedures’ during coronavirus, but Downing Street later said this was intended to mean not enough was known about the virus in the early stages of the outbreak.
Mr Barrass has campaigned for a decade following the death of his mother Vera in a private care home.
He has produced a report - Care Means Care, Justice in Care, calling for major changes to an ailing care system, including the creation of a single powerful body to inspect, investigate and regulate care homes.
His campaign has already reached the heights of government, with mention made in parliament by former North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones, as well as the personal attention of Prime Minister Theresa May.
In October, Boris Johnson responded personally, promising to pass Mr Barrass’s report on to the health and social care departments, and quoting directly from the report, saying the country should have a ‘world-leading care system’, suggesting he had read it.
In his latest letter, Mr Barrass says to the Prime Minister: “You were saved for a purpose, please please use this to help change our social care system, for the benefit of everyone in the UK.”
He urges the PM to respond to him and concludes: “Protocol and red tape have to be broken in emergencies and a crisis. If nothing positive comes from this, after so much suffering due to coronavirus, we have learned nothing.”
He hopes at some point to speak to the PM directly and told the Gazette: “The idea is to get to the Prime Minister and put a seed in his mind, that what this person is saying makes sense.
“You can’t put billions and trillions into a system that is falling apart.”
John Barrass’s letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Dear Prime Minister
My letter to you is in two parts, personal and national.
May I take the opportunity on behalf of the country and myself – we are all very thankful you were saved and recovered from the coronavirus.
We all admired your down to earth honesty, thanking the carers who helped save your life.
You were saved for a purpose, please please use this for helping (to) change our social care system, for the benefit of everyone in the UK.
As you will be aware, my last MP, Peter Heaton-Jones wrote to you with my document Care Means Care, Justice in Care. Thank you for your reply on October 21, quoting my first paragraph from my document and calling it a ‘thorough report’, and sending it to the Dept of Health for their attention.
Since then I have sent I have sent two documents to the new care minister, Helen Whately, Care Means Care and my report and summary of my work for the last 10 years. I have spoken to Helen’s PA in great detail about this, nut at present haven’t heard from Helen.
I have been investigating the social care system for the last 10 years and I know I have many of the solutions and answers to solve the care system, but I need to be listened to and taken seriously.
I am calling for all expert politicians in Parliament past and present who have the knowledge of the social care system and all the bodies that work around the system and charities, to hold a ‘conference’ on the system and for it to work alongside the NHS.
It can work if the will and the intelligence is there, calling for all parties to come together over this!
No one has ever done this before – there has to be a strategy, a plan, and a strong foundation to call for this.
It could be the birth of a new care system, as the NHS was in 1949.
As I have said, you were saved for a purpose – my aim is to meet you over this to explain why, about my work for the last 10 years. I believe I am right, so do many others I have spoken to.
We have got to act now, not in another 30 years, that will be too late.
I have now lost both my mother and father, my mother due to appalling care and how she died in a care home, and just recently, my father in a North Devon hospital.
I know what it is like to lose loved ones, which is what has made me investigate the care system in great detail over the last 10 years.
My knowledge must not be allowed to be ignored any longer.
I was a carer for my father in the last three years of his life. As he kept reminding me of the influence his grandfather and father had on him when he was younger. He always kept being told ‘learn to listen, listen to learn’ and ‘think practical, think positive’. He said this is what got him through to the present day.
This letter Prime Minister is a personal letter to you and no one else. I would appreciate a personal reply from you and not from one of your team, the contents of this letter are far too serious.
Protocol and red tape have to be broken in emergencies and a crisis. If nothing positive comes from this, after so much suffering due to the coronavirus, we have learned nothing!
I hope your wife and baby are okay and doing well, please pass my regards. Please let your wife read this letter.
Yours sincerely, John Malcolm Barrass (one of the 65million little people in the UK, who are very rarely listened to but have a lot to offer this country).