Political paralysis at Westminster is leading to vital decisions on NHS funding of nursing in care homes being delayed, the Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA) argues.
Many tens of thousands of care home residents in England are still waiting to find out how much they should have been receiving since 1st April 2016 from the NHS towards the weekly cost of their nursing care – with no date yet having been set by the government for exactly when they will know or when the money will start being paid to them.
RNHA chief executive officer Frank Ursell has added to the anger voiced by Care England last week on the unacceptable delay. “Whether or not the rest of their costs are publicly funded, every resident of every nursing home has a right to funded nursing care.
“The rate should have gone up in April to reflect rising costs and the outcome of an independent survey commissioned from outside accountants. But no extra money has been forthcoming. The Department of Health simply talks about something happening ‘shortly’, whenever shortly is.”
Mr Ursell continues: “It is difficult to fathom out what is going on in the corridors of power. Are mandarins’ minds excessively focused on Brexit or political party leadership contests? How long does it really take to decide on the increase that people in nursing homes should be receiving from NHS funds to cover the nursing element of their costs?”
The RNHA does not believe the existing NHS contribution – set since April 2015 at £112 per week per nursing home resident – adequately reflects the cost of the time spent by registered nurses in meeting residents’ needs or in supervising the work of other care staff in meeting those needs.
Care homes that provide nursing care were surveyed at the end of last year and the beginning of 2016 to calculate as accurately as possible the costs of employing registered nurses and to review whether those costs are higher in care homes providing specialist services.
Mr Ursell hints that the survey, which was conducted on behalf of the Ministry of Health, uncovered unpalatable truths. “We are beginning to wonder whether the survey report has embarrassed the Department of Health by indicating, as we suspect, that the NHS contribution to residents’ nursing costs in care homes has been underestimated over many years.
“Something is causing the delay in announcing and paying the rate for 2016/17. Yet another case of older people with multiple needs being made to wait by those in positions of power. Nothing new there, you might say. Pretty typical of the way things go generally.”
A furious Mr Ursell is demanding action. “What we are saying is – give the elderly a date for a decision, give them an explanation why it’s late, give them a fair deal and give them the money they are owed without further procrastination. Is it too much to ask?”