Government caps free nursing care

Free nursing care will be capped at £110 per week,
according to guidance issued for consultation, writes
Jonathan Pearce.

The department of health guidance for England proposes three
bands of weekly payment – £35 (low), £70 (medium)
and £110 (high). The rates will apply from October this year
for self-funding nursing home residents, before being extended from
April 2002 to all others receiving nursing care in a nursing home,
says the guidance.

Health authorities will receive an extra £80 million during
2001/02 to implement the proposals, which are based on an average
cost of £85 per week for each self-funding nursing home

Nurse co-ordinators will head teams of local nurses drawn from
health authorities or primary care trusts, which will carry out
assessments to determine the level of care, the guidance adds.

The Registered Nursing Homes Association has criticised the
payment levels and assessment method. “Older people have been
short-changed over this nursing care element,” said RNHA chief
executive Frank Ursell. “The government has not learnt the lessons
of community care. They’re going to make the assessor the

Currently the care provided by registered nurses in nursing
homes is charged for on a means-tested basis by social services
departments, along with personal care and hotel costs. But nursing
care provided in residential care homes is usually provided by a
registered nurse through the NHS community nursing service and is
already free.

There will be a four-week consultation period for the guidance
ending on 13 August, before final guidance is published in

* DoH draft guidance available from






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