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I’ve been an NHS doctor for five years. The Home Office wants to deport me

A year ago I had a stable job working as a trainee GP in Greater Manchester and was due to qualify in February this year. I was in a relationship, had my own car and everything was great.

But for the last eight months my life has been a living hell.

My troubles began towards the end of last year when I applied for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. I am from Singapore. I was five months away from qualifying as a GP and had studied medicine at Manchester University, starting as a doctor in the NHS in 2012.

I booked an appointment and paid for it before my visa ran out. I thought that was fine. In reality, the application is made when you attend the appointment, by which time my visa had been invalid for 18 days. I was refused residency for that reason, and since then it’s been a battle to reverse the decision. An immigration judge ruled that it “would not be proportionate” to remove me; the Home Office lodged an appeal. My lawyer told me on Friday morning it is reconsidering my original application.

Everything flies in the face of common sense. NHS England is paying £100m to recruitment agencies to get GPs to work in England and here I am, five months away from becoming a GP, and I’m being kicked out. Meanwhile, demand in the NHS is rising and GP numbers are falling.

I haven’t been allowed to work since the initial appointment. When I was told, my first thought was: “What am I going to do about all the patients I’ve booked next week? Who is going to see them?”

I’m not entitled to benefits so I’ve been living off my savings and help from my parents.

My mental health has deteriorated. There have been days when I’ve woken at 5am, my heart racing, and thought: “What should I do? Are they going to deport me? Am I going to be detained?” It was constantly on my mind. It placed a lot of strain on my relationship, which has now ended, party because of the stress.


I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship

Everything has ground to a halt. It takes a lot to be resilient and say I’m going to carry on regardless of what happens. If I can’t finish my training, everything will have been for nothing. I would have to go to another country – Singapore or Australia – and start over again as a trainee.

I’ve loved the UK since I visited as a child. When it came to university, my mind was set on the UK. I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship. It’s always nice to see what happens to them.

I remember learning about the NHS at school in Singapore. It’s this massive institution that takes care of you from when you’re born to your very last days. You always have to pay something for healthcare in Singapore. The NHS is amazing – it is unimaginable in other countries to have a system that gives you what you need, when you need it. I’m so proud to have worked for it.

I feel I have a personal debt to the NHS. It has invested in me – it costs hundreds of thousands of pounds to train a GP (pdf) from medical school through to qualification. Some of that I’ve paid for but I’m immensely grateful. I really want to be able to contribute and give back to the NHS.

Dr Ong has started a petition asking the Home Office to reconsider

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

I’ve been an NHS doctor for five years. The Home Office wants to deport me

A year ago I had a stable job working as a trainee GP in Greater Manchester and was due to qualify in February this year. I was in a relationship, had my own car and everything was great.

But for the last eight months my life has been a living hell.

My troubles began towards the end of last year when I applied for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. I am from Singapore. I was five months away from qualifying as a GP and had studied medicine at Manchester University, starting as a doctor in the NHS in 2012.

I booked an appointment and paid for it before my visa ran out. I thought that was fine. In reality, the application is made when you attend the appointment, by which time my visa had been invalid for 18 days. I was refused residency for that reason, and since then it’s been a battle to reverse the decision. An immigration judge ruled that it “would not be proportionate” to remove me; the Home Office lodged an appeal. My lawyer told me on Friday morning it is reconsidering my original application.

Everything flies in the face of common sense. NHS England is paying £100m to recruitment agencies to get GPs to work in England and here I am, five months away from becoming a GP, and I’m being kicked out. Meanwhile, demand in the NHS is rising and GP numbers are falling.

I haven’t been allowed to work since the initial appointment. When I was told, my first thought was: “What am I going to do about all the patients I’ve booked next week? Who is going to see them?”

I’m not entitled to benefits so I’ve been living off my savings and help from my parents.

My mental health has deteriorated. There have been days when I’ve woken at 5am, my heart racing, and thought: “What should I do? Are they going to deport me? Am I going to be detained?” It was constantly on my mind. It placed a lot of strain on my relationship, which has now ended, party because of the stress.


I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship

Everything has ground to a halt. It takes a lot to be resilient and say I’m going to carry on regardless of what happens. If I can’t finish my training, everything will have been for nothing. I would have to go to another country – Singapore or Australia – and start over again as a trainee.

I’ve loved the UK since I visited as a child. When it came to university, my mind was set on the UK. I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship. It’s always nice to see what happens to them.

I remember learning about the NHS at school in Singapore. It’s this massive institution that takes care of you from when you’re born to your very last days. You always have to pay something for healthcare in Singapore. The NHS is amazing – it is unimaginable in other countries to have a system that gives you what you need, when you need it. I’m so proud to have worked for it.

I feel I have a personal debt to the NHS. It has invested in me – it costs hundreds of thousands of pounds to train a GP (pdf) from medical school through to qualification. Some of that I’ve paid for but I’m immensely grateful. I really want to be able to contribute and give back to the NHS.

Dr Ong has started a petition asking the Home Office to reconsider

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

I’ve been an NHS doctor for five years. The Home Office wants to deport me

A year ago I had a stable job working as a trainee GP in Greater Manchester and was due to qualify in February this year. I was in a relationship, had my own car and everything was great.

But for the last eight months my life has been a living hell.

My troubles began towards the end of last year when I applied for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. I am from Singapore. I was five months away from qualifying as a GP and had studied medicine at Manchester University, starting as a doctor in the NHS in 2012.

I booked an appointment and paid for it before my visa ran out. I thought that was fine. In reality, the application is made when you attend the appointment, by which time my visa had been invalid for 18 days. I was refused residency for that reason, and since then it’s been a battle to reverse the decision. An immigration judge ruled that it “would not be proportionate” to remove me; the Home Office lodged an appeal. My lawyer told me on Friday morning it is reconsidering my original application.

Everything flies in the face of common sense. NHS England is paying £100m to recruitment agencies to get GPs to work in England and here I am, five months away from becoming a GP, and I’m being kicked out. Meanwhile, demand in the NHS is rising and GP numbers are falling.

I haven’t been allowed to work since the initial appointment. When I was told, my first thought was: “What am I going to do about all the patients I’ve booked next week? Who is going to see them?”

I’m not entitled to benefits so I’ve been living off my savings and help from my parents.

My mental health has deteriorated. There have been days when I’ve woken at 5am, my heart racing, and thought: “What should I do? Are they going to deport me? Am I going to be detained?” It was constantly on my mind. It placed a lot of strain on my relationship, which has now ended, party because of the stress.


I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship

Everything has ground to a halt. It takes a lot to be resilient and say I’m going to carry on regardless of what happens. If I can’t finish my training, everything will have been for nothing. I would have to go to another country – Singapore or Australia – and start over again as a trainee.

I’ve loved the UK since I visited as a child. When it came to university, my mind was set on the UK. I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship. It’s always nice to see what happens to them.

I remember learning about the NHS at school in Singapore. It’s this massive institution that takes care of you from when you’re born to your very last days. You always have to pay something for healthcare in Singapore. The NHS is amazing – it is unimaginable in other countries to have a system that gives you what you need, when you need it. I’m so proud to have worked for it.

I feel I have a personal debt to the NHS. It has invested in me – it costs hundreds of thousands of pounds to train a GP (pdf) from medical school through to qualification. Some of that I’ve paid for but I’m immensely grateful. I really want to be able to contribute and give back to the NHS.

Dr Ong has started a petition asking the Home Office to reconsider

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

I’ve been an NHS doctor for five years. The Home Office wants to deport me

A year ago I had a stable job working as a trainee GP in Greater Manchester and was due to qualify in February this year. I was in a relationship, had my own car and everything was great.

But for the last eight months my life has been a living hell.

My troubles began towards the end of last year when I applied for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. I am from Singapore. I was five months away from qualifying as a GP and had studied medicine at Manchester University, starting as a doctor in the NHS in 2012.

I booked an appointment and paid for it before my visa ran out. I thought that was fine. In reality, the application is made when you attend the appointment, by which time my visa had been invalid for 18 days. I was refused residency for that reason, and since then it’s been a battle to reverse the decision. An immigration judge ruled that it “would not be proportionate” to remove me; the Home Office lodged an appeal. My lawyer told me on Friday morning it is reconsidering my original application.

Everything flies in the face of common sense. NHS England is paying £100m to recruitment agencies to get GPs to work in England and here I am, five months away from becoming a GP, and I’m being kicked out. Meanwhile, demand in the NHS is rising and GP numbers are falling.

I haven’t been allowed to work since the initial appointment. When I was told, my first thought was: “What am I going to do about all the patients I’ve booked next week? Who is going to see them?”

I’m not entitled to benefits so I’ve been living off my savings and help from my parents.

My mental health has deteriorated. There have been days when I’ve woken at 5am, my heart racing, and thought: “What should I do? Are they going to deport me? Am I going to be detained?” It was constantly on my mind. It placed a lot of strain on my relationship, which has now ended, party because of the stress.


I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship

Everything has ground to a halt. It takes a lot to be resilient and say I’m going to carry on regardless of what happens. If I can’t finish my training, everything will have been for nothing. I would have to go to another country – Singapore or Australia – and start over again as a trainee.

I’ve loved the UK since I visited as a child. When it came to university, my mind was set on the UK. I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship. It’s always nice to see what happens to them.

I remember learning about the NHS at school in Singapore. It’s this massive institution that takes care of you from when you’re born to your very last days. You always have to pay something for healthcare in Singapore. The NHS is amazing – it is unimaginable in other countries to have a system that gives you what you need, when you need it. I’m so proud to have worked for it.

I feel I have a personal debt to the NHS. It has invested in me – it costs hundreds of thousands of pounds to train a GP (pdf) from medical school through to qualification. Some of that I’ve paid for but I’m immensely grateful. I really want to be able to contribute and give back to the NHS.

Dr Ong has started a petition asking the Home Office to reconsider

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

I’ve been an NHS doctor for five years. The Home Office wants to deport me

A year ago I had a stable job working as a trainee GP in Greater Manchester and was due to qualify in February this year. I was in a relationship, had my own car and everything was great.

But for the last eight months my life has been a living hell.

My troubles began towards the end of last year when I applied for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. I am from Singapore. I was five months away from qualifying as a GP and had studied medicine at Manchester University, starting as a doctor in the NHS in 2012.

I booked an appointment and paid for it before my visa ran out. I thought that was fine. In reality, the application is made when you attend the appointment, by which time my visa had been invalid for 18 days. I was refused residency for that reason, and since then it’s been a battle to reverse the decision. An immigration judge ruled that it “would not be proportionate” to remove me; the Home Office lodged an appeal. My lawyer told me on Friday morning it is reconsidering my original application.

Everything flies in the face of common sense. NHS England is paying £100m to recruitment agencies to get GPs to work in England and here I am, five months away from becoming a GP, and I’m being kicked out. Meanwhile, demand in the NHS is rising and GP numbers are falling.

I haven’t been allowed to work since the initial appointment. When I was told, my first thought was: “What am I going to do about all the patients I’ve booked next week? Who is going to see them?”

I’m not entitled to benefits so I’ve been living off my savings and help from my parents.

My mental health has deteriorated. There have been days when I’ve woken at 5am, my heart racing, and thought: “What should I do? Are they going to deport me? Am I going to be detained?” It was constantly on my mind. It placed a lot of strain on my relationship, which has now ended, party because of the stress.


I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship

Everything has ground to a halt. It takes a lot to be resilient and say I’m going to carry on regardless of what happens. If I can’t finish my training, everything will have been for nothing. I would have to go to another country – Singapore or Australia – and start over again as a trainee.

I’ve loved the UK since I visited as a child. When it came to university, my mind was set on the UK. I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship. It’s always nice to see what happens to them.

I remember learning about the NHS at school in Singapore. It’s this massive institution that takes care of you from when you’re born to your very last days. You always have to pay something for healthcare in Singapore. The NHS is amazing – it is unimaginable in other countries to have a system that gives you what you need, when you need it. I’m so proud to have worked for it.

I feel I have a personal debt to the NHS. It has invested in me – it costs hundreds of thousands of pounds to train a GP (pdf) from medical school through to qualification. Some of that I’ve paid for but I’m immensely grateful. I really want to be able to contribute and give back to the NHS.

Dr Ong has started a petition asking the Home Office to reconsider

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

The Home Office asylum system is so bad it drove me to attempt suicide | Anonymous

When I was a child, my father gave me a wind-up turtle. It was a souvenir he bought back from a trip to the UK in 1979 and I loved it so much that it inspired me to come and live here. I arrived in the UK in 2008 but, unlike my father who came to perform as a musician, I came to brighten my future with study. Drunk with love for England, I could never have predicted the hardship and trauma I would face at the hands of the Home Office.

I have long suffered from depression. I reached a point where my mental health was so poor that I was no longer able to study. Despite my obvious vulnerability, an application to extend my visa on mental health grounds was denied. I was devastated.


Once on a bus I received a text message from the Home Office telling me to return to my home country immediately

With the huge financial burden and the growing threat of removal, my mental health deteriorated. One night I tried to kill myself. Fortunately, my wife woke up to use the bathroom and found me. She managed to call the emergency services in time and I was admitted to hospital, where I spent 11 weeks recovering.

In desperate need of further legal advice, I was still in hospital when I first contacted the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. I come from a country where people with mental health problems face stigma and discrimination – to the point where removal would have been dangerous for both me and my family. After an analysis of my case, we decided to pursue an application for asylum.

My application was refused in 2015 and I was forced to wait almost a year before my appeal was heard. This period of limbo, not knowing whether I would be granted protection or forced to return, had a significant and detrimental impact on my mental health. I was having panic attacks, unable to sleep and found myself in a state of fugue. I received aggressive letters from the Home Office telling me I would be removed. I remember being on a bus and receiving a text message from the Home Office telling me I needed to return to my home country immediately. My daughter was eight at the time and all I wanted was for her to have a normal childhood, but it was impossible to hide my anxiety. I could not believe that the Home Office could be so cruel. I made another suicide attempt.

In May 2016, 11 months after the Home Office wrongly rejected my claim, I was finally told that my appeal had succeeded. But my battle didn’t end there. I was granted limited leave to remain – which would only allow me and my family to stay for two-and-a-half years. We could not face another period like the one we had just experienced and went back to court.

This year, after three years of uncertainty, stress and hardship, we have finally received indefinite leave to remain. My wife will begin a mental health nursing course and I am so proud of my children, who are thriving at school. We can finally live our lives.

But although I am filled with joy to be able to stay in the country that I call home, the impact these years have had on my mental health will remain.

I cannot get the old me back. I was fortunate to have the support of my family and JCWI. Many others in a similar position do not have the support they need. The Home Office’s history of poor decision-making is dangerous – my life was at risk every day that I waited for a decision – and it’s clear that the system needs to change. Currently over 50% of immigration appeals are successful. Each of those wrong decisions means a family in limbo for months, hoping that a court will put things right.

If you have been affected by the mental health issues raised in this article please contact Samaritans on 116 123

The Home Office asylum system is so bad it drove me to attempt suicide | Anonymous

When I was a child, my father gave me a wind-up turtle. It was a souvenir he bought back from a trip to the UK in 1979 and I loved it so much that it inspired me to come and live here. I arrived in the UK in 2008 but, unlike my father who came to perform as a musician, I came to brighten my future with study. Drunk with love for England, I could never have predicted the hardship and trauma I would face at the hands of the Home Office.

I have long suffered from depression. I reached a point where my mental health was so poor that I was no longer able to study. Despite my obvious vulnerability, an application to extend my visa on mental health grounds was denied. I was devastated.


Once on a bus I received a text message from the Home Office telling me to return to my home country immediately

With the huge financial burden and the growing threat of removal, my mental health deteriorated. One night I tried to kill myself. Fortunately, my wife woke up to use the bathroom and found me. She managed to call the emergency services in time and I was admitted to hospital, where I spent 11 weeks recovering.

In desperate need of further legal advice, I was still in hospital when I first contacted the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. I come from a country where people with mental health problems face stigma and discrimination – to the point where removal would have been dangerous for both me and my family. After an analysis of my case, we decided to pursue an application for asylum.

My application was refused in 2015 and I was forced to wait almost a year before my appeal was heard. This period of limbo, not knowing whether I would be granted protection or forced to return, had a significant and detrimental impact on my mental health. I was having panic attacks, unable to sleep and found myself in a state of fugue. I received aggressive letters from the Home Office telling me I would be removed. I remember being on a bus and receiving a text message from the Home Office telling me I needed to return to my home country immediately. My daughter was eight at the time and all I wanted was for her to have a normal childhood, but it was impossible to hide my anxiety. I could not believe that the Home Office could be so cruel. I made another suicide attempt.

In May 2016, 11 months after the Home Office wrongly rejected my claim, I was finally told that my appeal had succeeded. But my battle didn’t end there. I was granted limited leave to remain – which would only allow me and my family to stay for two-and-a-half years. We could not face another period like the one we had just experienced and went back to court.

This year, after three years of uncertainty, stress and hardship, we have finally received indefinite leave to remain. My wife will begin a mental health nursing course and I am so proud of my children, who are thriving at school. We can finally live our lives.

But although I am filled with joy to be able to stay in the country that I call home, the impact these years have had on my mental health will remain.

I cannot get the old me back. I was fortunate to have the support of my family and JCWI. Many others in a similar position do not have the support they need. The Home Office’s history of poor decision-making is dangerous – my life was at risk every day that I waited for a decision – and it’s clear that the system needs to change. Currently over 50% of immigration appeals are successful. Each of those wrong decisions means a family in limbo for months, hoping that a court will put things right.

If you have been affected by the mental health issues raised in this article please contact Samaritans on 116 123

The failing Home Office asylum system drove me to attempt suicide | Anonymous

When I was a child, my father gave me a wind-up turtle. It was a souvenir he bought back from a trip to the UK in 1979 and I loved it so much that it inspired me to come and live here. I arrived in the UK in 2008 but, unlike my father who came to perform as a musician, I came to brighten my future with study. Drunk with love for England, I could never have predicted the hardship and trauma I would face at the hands of the Home Office.

I have long suffered from depression. I reached a point where my mental health was so poor that I was no longer able to study. Despite my obvious vulnerability, an application to extend my visa on mental health grounds was denied. I was devastated.


Once on a bus I received a text message from the Home Office telling me to return to my home country immediately

With the huge financial burden and the growing threat of removal, my mental health deteriorated. One night I tried to commit suicide. Fortunately, my wife woke up to use the bathroom and found me. She managed to call the emergency services in time and I was admitted to hospital, where I spent 11 weeks recovering.

In desperate need of further legal advice, I was still in hospital when I first contacted the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. I come from a country where people with mental health problems face stigma and discrimination – to the point where removal would have been dangerous for both me and my family. After an analysis of my case, we decided to pursue an application for asylum.

My application was refused in 2015 and I was forced to wait almost a year before my appeal was heard. This period of limbo, not knowing whether I would be granted protection or forced to return, had a significant and detrimental impact on my mental health. I was having panic attacks, unable to sleep and found myself in a state of fugue. I received aggressive letters from the Home Office telling me I would be removed. I remember being on a bus and receiving a text message from the Home Office telling me I needed to return to my home country immediately. My daughter was eight at the time and all I wanted was for her to have a normal childhood, but it was impossible to hide my anxiety. I could not believe that the Home Office could be so cruel. I made another suicide attempt.

In May 2016, 11 months after the Home Office wrongly rejected my claim, I was finally told that my appeal had succeeded. But my battle didn’t end there. I was granted limited leave to remain – which would only allow me and my family to stay for two-and-a-half years. We could not face another period like the one we had just experienced and went back to court.

This year, after three years of uncertainty, stress and hardship, we have finally received indefinite leave to remain. My wife will begin a mental health nursing course and I am so proud of my children, who are thriving at school. We can finally live our lives.

But although I am filled with joy to be able to stay in the country that I call home, the impact these years have had on my mental health will remain.

I cannot get the old me back. I was fortunate to have the support of my family and JCWI. Many others in a similar position do not have the support they need. The Home Office’s history of poor decision-making is dangerous – my life was at risk every day that I waited for a decision – and it’s clear that the system needs to change. Currently over 50% of immigration appeals are successful. Each of those wrong decisions means a family in limbo for months, hoping that a court will put things right.

If you have been affected by the mental health issues raised in this article please contact Samaritans on 116 123

Mum has dementia and now Dad’s dead she will have to sell her home. Why? | Anne Penketh

When my father died suddenly in January at the age of 91, family and friends gave him a great send-off. We had a private cremation, an uplifting memorial service at church, and rounded off the day with a buffet at the golf club. The next day, Mum couldn’t remember anything about it. She kept asking whether Dad had died, how he had died, and obsessed about having to organise the funeral.

About 10 years ago Mum was diagnosed with dementia, the creeping and cruel illness that has stolen her short-term memory although not – yet – her vibrant personality. Thanks to round-the-clock care by my father, her memory problems worsened only gradually until his death. But in grief, her confusion has deepened significantly.

In the first weeks after he died, my brother and I would have to relive every few minutes, in response to questions from Mum about how he’d fallen down the stairs and knocked himself out. She kept on discovering for herself that he wasn’t there. Once she wandered into my bedroom in the middle of the night with her handbag under her arm, saying she was going to call the police because Dad was missing.

The doctor said that we should start with a social-needs assessment by the local authorities, which would help us with a care package. However, they told us that Mum would have to consent to an assessment by phone, which seemed surreal given her belief that she was running the household unaided. More than two months later we are still waiting for a face-to-face appointment and have been navigating the system on our own. One of my first discoveries was that because my mother has more than £23,250 in personal assets, including her house, she would be among the hundreds of thousands of “self-funders” forced to pay all her costs if she ended up in a care home.

While I was in the process of talking to care agencies and visiting homes trying to find out what would be in her best interests, Mum – who is very mobile and fit at 89, despite her condition – had a fall. She spent a day in hospital, which prompted us to take the wrenching decision to find a place for her in a residential home where she would be safe. How quickly we had reached the point where suddenly we were going to start burning through money and face the “catastrophic” costs recognised by the Dilnot commission in 2011.

‘Nothing has changed!’: May as she announces social care U-turn – video

Like so many others watching their savings being wiped out, I feel that our situation is unfair because dementia is an illness for which there is no cure and which strikes at random. My father never claimed a penny as one of the cohorts of unpaid family carers who now total 8% of the UK population. If Mum had been diagnosed with cancer, she would have received free care on the NHS, but with dementia she’s having to fend for herself. Why should she be penalised when others with a different illness are not?

Nothing has been done to reform this arbitrary and unjust policy of adult social care since the Dilnot commission recommended a cap on lifetime care costs and a more generous means test. After the coalition government backed the principle, Theresa May last year postponed the reforms that would have limited individual liabilities. Now the best chance for overhauling the funding system will be in a long-awaited green paper in May or June – which the government has said will contain options for asset caps and a means-tested floor.

With May proposing £4bn a year in extra spending for the NHS, Jeremy Hunt spelled out on 20 March his seven principles, in which he said social care should be the shared responsibility of the state and the individual. Adult social care has been led by local authorities since 1990 but now they are struggling to cope with budget cuts as well as the needs of a swelling elderly population living longer than ever. Having lost his grandmother to dementia, Hunt said he wants to end this illness “lottery”, which defines financial wellbeing under the current punitive system.

He hinted that younger people might take out social insurance for their care needs in old age, as part of an “equitable” approach to funding. Other options, also reviewed in a recent working paper by the King’s Fund, could include a dedicated tax for social care, including a possible tax on people’s homes after they die.

Resolving the social care crisis with a long-term financially sustainable approach will take time. It will cost billions and will be too late for my Mum, who will have to sell her house if she stays in the care home.

Why should young people care, saddled with debt from university fees and struggling to get a foothold on the housing ladder? Because dementia is a timebomb the devastating effects of which are being felt by families across the land. With cases steadily approaching the one million mark, it’s time for solidarity across the generations. We all pay for education, whether or not we have children. Whatever solution is found for social care in the future, it must be earmarked and include the principle of “we all help one another”.

Anne Penketh is a journalist and author

Mum has dementia and now Dad’s dead she will have to sell her home. Why? | Anne Penketh

When my father died suddenly in January at the age of 91, family and friends gave him a great send-off. We had a private cremation, an uplifting memorial service at church, and rounded off the day with a buffet at the golf club. The next day, Mum couldn’t remember anything about it. She kept asking whether Dad had died, how he had died, and obsessed about having to organise the funeral.

About 10 years ago Mum was diagnosed with dementia, the creeping and cruel illness that has stolen her short-term memory although not – yet – her vibrant personality. Thanks to round-the-clock care by my father, her memory problems worsened only gradually until his death. But in grief, her confusion has deepened significantly.

In the first weeks after he died, my brother and I would have to relive every few minutes, in response to questions from Mum about how he’d fallen down the stairs and knocked himself out. She kept on discovering for herself that he wasn’t there. Once she wandered into my bedroom in the middle of the night with her handbag under her arm, saying she was going to call the police because Dad was missing.

The doctor said that we should start with a social-needs assessment by the local authorities, which would help us with a care package. However, they told us that Mum would have to consent to an assessment by phone, which seemed surreal given her belief that she was running the household unaided. More than two months later we are still waiting for a face-to-face appointment and have been navigating the system on our own. One of my first discoveries was that because my mother has more than £23,250 in personal assets, including her house, she would be among the hundreds of thousands of “self-funders” forced to pay all her costs if she ended up in a care home.

While I was in the process of talking to care agencies and visiting homes trying to find out what would be in her best interests, Mum – who is very mobile and fit at 89, despite her condition – had a fall. She spent a day in hospital, which prompted us to take the wrenching decision to find a place for her in a residential home where she would be safe. How quickly we had reached the point where suddenly we were going to start burning through money and face the “catastrophic” costs recognised by the Dilnot commission in 2011.

‘Nothing has changed!’: May as she announces social care U-turn – video

Like so many others watching their savings being wiped out, I feel that our situation is unfair because dementia is an illness for which there is no cure and which strikes at random. My father never claimed a penny as one of the cohorts of unpaid family carers who now total 8% of the UK population. If Mum had been diagnosed with cancer, she would have received free care on the NHS, but with dementia she’s having to fend for herself. Why should she be penalised when others with a different illness are not?

Nothing has been done to reform this arbitrary and unjust policy of adult social care since the Dilnot commission recommended a cap on lifetime care costs and a more generous means test. After the coalition government backed the principle, Theresa May last year postponed the reforms that would have limited individual liabilities. Now the best chance for overhauling the funding system will be in a long-awaited green paper in May or June – which the government has said will contain options for asset caps and a means-tested floor.

With May proposing £4bn a year in extra spending for the NHS, Jeremy Hunt spelled out on 20 March his seven principles, in which he said social care should be the shared responsibility of the state and the individual. Adult social care has been led by local authorities since 1990 but now they are struggling to cope with budget cuts as well as the needs of a swelling elderly population living longer than ever. Having lost his grandmother to dementia, Hunt said he wants to end this illness “lottery”, which defines financial wellbeing under the current punitive system.

He hinted that younger people might take out social insurance for their care needs in old age, as part of an “equitable” approach to funding. Other options, also reviewed in a recent working paper by the King’s Fund, could include a dedicated tax for social care, including a possible tax on people’s homes after they die.

Resolving the social care crisis with a long-term financially sustainable approach will take time. It will cost billions and will be too late for my Mum, who will have to sell her house if she stays in the care home.

Why should young people care, saddled with debt from university fees and struggling to get a foothold on the housing ladder? Because dementia is a timebomb the devastating effects of which are being felt by families across the land. With cases steadily approaching the one million mark, it’s time for solidarity across the generations. We all pay for education, whether or not we have children. Whatever solution is found for social care in the future, it must be earmarked and include the principle of “we all help one another”.

Anne Penketh is a journalist and author