Older people’s charity Age Concern has called for an
inquiry by the House of Commons health select committee into the
implementation of free nursing care, writes Katie
The charity says that it has always had doubts about the policy
decision to separate nursing care and personal care, and describes
implementation as an “absolute shambles”.
Gordon Lishman, Age Concern England’s director general,
said that a new lottery is developing, so that the benefit a person
receives depends on the home where they live.
“If you are lucky enough to live in a home which is making sure
it passes the relevant NHS supplement onto you then you are likely
to see the benefits of free nursing care. If this is not the case
then the government may just as well not have introduced the
changes,” he said.
From October last year the NHS should have taken responsibility
for the registered nurse element of care in nursing homes, with
residents receiving £35, £70 or £110 according to
their level of need.
Sue Adams, acting chief executive of the Relatives and Residents
Association, said that they are receiving an increasing number of
calls saying that homes are not passing on a reduction in costs
after the NHS has paid them, and in some cases are actually
increasing the fees.
But the Registered Nursing Home Association claims that nursing
homes are being singled out as scapegoats for the under-funding of
long term care for older people.
Chief executive officer Frank Ursell said that the government
ignored advice for the payments to be made to the patients
themselves and not to the homes.
“If it had accepted that advice, nursing homes would not have
been placed in the invidious position that they are now in, with
accusations that they are pocketing the money. We would have
preferred the patients to receive the money and then to pay their
nursing home whatever fee increases may have been in the pipeline,”
Health minister Jacqui Smith said that the extra funding “must
benefit” the people for whom it was intended. “I am sure most
nursing homes will ensure that this happens in a transparent way.
However, where there is doubt I will be writing to them to seek