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Page last updated at 07:41 GMT, Friday, 3 June 2011 08:41 UK

'A growing crisis' in social care


Serious concerns have been raised over the private sector's role in Britain's health service, after appalling abuse was exposed at a private institution in Bristol, and a financial crisis took hold of Britain's largest care home provider, Southern Cross.

"Everyone agrees that the social care system needs a massive overhaul," explained political correspondent Ben Wright.

The NHS reform bill will make it easier for private companies and charities to bid for NHS contracts. But the two controversies this week "might make that a tougher vision to sell", he said.

On the issue of Southern Cross, Colin Ellis, chief economist at the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, said it was "not factually true" that private equity firm Blackstone had made the company unsustainable.

"I think private equity adds value to private businesses," he said, including those operating in the social care sector.

But responding to both cases, Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb said that "there has been a growing crisis in social care for many years now".

"Social care law is in a bad state, is in urgent need of reform," he said, and the regulation system was "confused".

"There is a real opportunity now to get the law and the funding fit for purpose".

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