NHS responsibility for free nursing care delayed 12 months

Full responsibility for funding free nursing care will not be
transferred to the NHS until April 2003, the government has
announced after coming under mounting pressure to defer the

In July 2000, the government accepted the Royal Commission on
Long Term Care for the Elderly’s recommendation to remove the
anomaly of people paying for nursing care in nursing homes that is
provided free in other settings.

Consultation guidance on implementing free nursing care
published in July 2001 proposed that the funding of local authority
funded residents’ registered nursing care would be
transferred to the NHS from April 2002.

But concerns raised by the Association of Directors of Social
Services, the Local Government Association, and the NHS
Confederation about the proposed timescale for implementing the
changes and assessing all residents have forced the government to

Health minister Jacqui Smith said: “The deferral in the
transferral of funds from local authorities will allow more time
for the NHS and councils to work together to ensure that the
process is carried out efficiently and to the benefit of older
people receiving nursing care.”

Smith stressed that the change would enable NHS, social
services, and care home staff to “establish effective working
partnerships, but would not affect the government’s
commitment to make nursing care free for all, regardless of
setting, from October 2001.

“We are keen to make it clear that the deferral will not in any
way affect the care older people receive in nursing homes and other
settings which will continue to be provided for free throughout the
transition period,” she said.

LGA chairperson Sir Jeremy Beecham confirmed the
association’s commitment to free nursing care, and that
anyone paying for their own care should receive this benefit from 1

But he added: “We are pleased that the government agrees that an
additional 12 months until full implementation will enable robust
arrangements for joint working between councils and the NHS which
will ensure smooth implementation.”






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