Free nursing care has proved little more than
a “cruel hoax” for thousands of people and the way it has been
implemented is “flawed in principle and in practice”, claims a
report from the Liberal Democrats.
Putting the Fee into Free Nursing
Care brands the scheme a shambles with as many as one in five
people eligible for free nursing care still waiting for a reduction
in their fees.
A survey of 64 health authorities and primary
care trusts reveals that more than three out of five people
co-ordinating free nursing care have evidence of homes putting up
their fees rather than passing the money onto their residents.
The survey says as many as 5,636 people have
had decisions about their nursing care taken without ever being
seen by a nurse and up to 1,500 nurses have been diverted from
front-line duties to undertake the banding assessments.
Paul Burstow, Liberal Democrats spokesperson
for older people, said that from the start free nursing care has
been “a deliberate deceit”.
“It adds insult to injury that the money is
not getting through,” he said. “The government left so many
loopholes in its plans for free nursing care it is hardly
surprising some nursing home owners have driven a coach and horses
The report recommends that the government
abandons the initiative and implements free personal care as
recommended by the Royal Commission on Long Term Care.
Earlier this week health minister Jacqui Smith
announced new measures to stop care home providers taking advantage
of free nursing care by raising fees.
These include an amendment to care home
regulations so that homes must provide a breakdown of their fees to
enable residents to see what relates to nursing care and what to
residential care, and a model contract setting out the obligations
on NHS bodies and care homes for dealing with the Registered
Nursing Care Contribution.
– Putting the Fee into Free Nursing
Care is available from www.paulburstow.com