The Department of Health has said Kent Council
does not have the power to place people in nursing homes in other
The local authority is considering the
purchase of nursing home beds in Europe because it cannot afford to
pay fees in the UK (News, page 5, 6 September).
But under the National Assistance Act of 1948
local authorities do not have the power to place people in
residential care outside England and Wales.
A spokesperson for the DoH said: “In England
and Wales, older people should be given the option to choose where
they want to stay, and where their health, well-being and
independence can be best maintained.
“This usually means placing them older people
in a home as close as possible to the community of which they are a
But Oliver Mills, director of operations at
Kent social services department, said: “We want to reassure people
that we are only exploring the idea and we will continue to do so.
We have a crisis and are being forced to do this.”
Liberal Democrat shadow minister for older
people Paul Burstow described the move as “another symptom of the
strains being placed on the care sector”.
Burstow said the shipping of vulnerable older
people to a country where English was not the first language could
cause immense confusion and anxiety for everyone concerned.
“The government is failing to address the
severe problems that are facing residential and nursing homes,
particularly in London and the South East.”