Ed Balls: Inside the Care Crisis


To die is an awful thing. For Frank Petch, a former haulage company boss and vintage lorry enthusiast, the price was more than £580,000.

At £15,000 a month for one-to-one care in a nursing home, Frank’s long illness consumed all the proceeds from the sale of his house in less than four years.

Frank, who was 90 at the time Ed Balls met him while filming Inside The Care Crisis (BBC2) earlier in this year, couldn’t speak or eat.

Ed Balls, pictured with Phyllis, spent a week working at a Scarborough care home, fumed that the NHS provides free treatment for some fatal illnesses such as cancer but for others in care homes, sufferers are left to pick up the bill themselves

Ed Balls (pictured here with Phyllis) spent a week at a Scarborough nursing home. He complained that while the NHS offers free treatment for certain fatalities such as cancer, other residents in the homes have to pay the bills.

The family couldn’t afford to provide one-on-one medical care.

Ed was tired and frustrated after spending a week in a Scarborough home for the elderly.

He said that some of the most fatal and serious illnesses, such as cancer, can be treated free by NHS.

Others, particularly the multiple forms of dementia, are also affected.

In many thousands of cases, that wipes out every penny the patient possesses and can still leave them without sufficient medical support — a shocking injustice that the Daily Mail has campaigned to overturn.

The former Labour secretary of state for families, Ed didn’t try to deny his own slice of responsibility for the crisis.

The former Labour secretary of state for families, Ed didn't deny his own slice of responsibility for the crisis

Ed, the former Labour secretary-general for families and Labour, didn’t dismiss his part in the responsibility for the crisis.

‘We promised to fix the care system but we failed,’ he said. ‘I feel guilty that as a government minister I couldn’t do more.’

He was keen to make sure the residents at St Cecilia’s knew he was not to blame now.

‘This is Ed,’ one carer announced in the communal lounge. ‘He used to be a politician.’ ‘Oh dear,’ came a quavering voice.

Ed has a lot of experience with dealing with dementia. After suffering for fifteen years, his mother eventually went into permanent care.

Ed had been unable to see her for almost 18 months because of the pandemic. The reunion captured on film was touching, but also sad.

His personal experiences and ease in presenting serious issues alongside light-hearted chit chat made him the perfect celebrity for this role.

The resident was happy to help him wash and eat, and he enjoyed sitting on a hoist. He was not afraid to let staff vent their anger. ‘I’m just a carer — that gets said so much, and I hate it,’ raged one.

Ed Balls with Aaron Padgham (centre) and Mike Padgham (right) at St Cecilia's Nursing Home

Ed Balls and Aaron Padgham (right) at St Cecilia’s Nursing Home

Too often, the NHS is valued more than private sector workers. At the peak of the Covid disaster, where tens to thousands of seniors were suffering in isolation, Britain was able to wake up for a few days and realize what it owed its carers.

Now, we’re in real danger of forgetting again. Ed’s first-rate documentary could not be more timely.

Embarrassing dad of the night: Gino D’Acampo was making his children cringe as they went kayaking, on his Italian Family Adventure (ITV).

‘Your problem is your breastage,’ he told wife JessicaThey. ‘I can see your difficulties.’ Jessica giggled. ‘Oh guys . . .’ sighed the boys. 

The Tower


DC Steve Bradshaw and DS Sarah Collins in ITV's The Tower

ITV’s The Tower: DC Steve Bradshaw, DS Sarah Collins

There’s a real danger I’ll have forgotten every word of the improbable plot-by-numbers of The Tower (ITV) before tonight’s second episode.

Gemma Whelan is a detective Sergeant who investigates the deaths of two popular officers and one teenager refugee who fell off the tower blocks’ roof.

All the copper’s colleagues, and her own boss, are deliberately obstructive, which only makes her more determined etc, etc.

It’s adapted from a novel, and it feels like it — the pace is wrong for a TV drama, and almost every scene is plucked from a different day.

From left to right: Jimmy Akingbola as DC Steve Bradshaw, Gemma Whelan as DS Sarah Collins, Tahirah Sharif as PC Lizzie Adams and Emmett J. Scanlan as DC Kieran Shaw

Left to Right: Emmett J. Scanlan, DC Kieranshaw; Gemma Whelan, DC Steve Bradshaw; Jimmy Akingbola, DC Steve Bradshaw.

The written word might make DS Sarah Collins vulnerable, as she is irritable towards her parents and has a long-dead relationship.

On screen, she’s just stroppy and unlikeable.

She appears willing to jeopardise another major investigation, into sex trafficking, and put a young female PC’s life in danger, simply to get her own way.

Whelan, who is often a formidable actress deserves better.