For a deeply depressing read on a (in London wet) Tuesday evening, you could do worse than read the report just published into the series of events known as ‘Operation Jasmine,’ – a lengthy and complex investigation by Gwent Police concerning 63 deaths which were a cause for concern in private care homes and nursing homes for older people in south east Wales, but which led to no judgments or legal resolution. The Executive Summary outlines a series of lessons, the first, and perhaps most depressingly obvious being that scandals fix nothing permanently. It is also entirely clear that “private interest pursued at the expense of others has a long history, however the public interest cannot be subordinate to the short term personal gains or even the criminality of a minority of directors of care homes.” As Margaret Flynn notes:
The external scrutiny of the care and support of older people by commissioners, care managers and regulators should be matched by ensuring that companies in this sector open their boards to independent scrutiny. A lasting achievement of Operation Jasmine has to be a readiness to adopt a long term view. Companies which have demonstrably failed older people should be allowed to fail and their directors should be disqualified. They have depleted public trust. The needs of frail older people cannot be subordinate to those financially sophisticated businesses and/or powerful directors; if that situation should prevail we will remain in search of accountability indefinitely.