Providers warn of ‘perfect storm’ if registration fees are levied in Wales
Caring Times, November 2013
Care home owners are urging the Welsh Government to abandon plans to reintroduce registration fees. Care Forum Wales (CFW)believes the measure would be counterproductive, putting some independent providers at risk and potentially reducing the standards of care.
The Welsh Government has launched a consultation seeking views about proposals contained in a White Paper on the future of regulation and inspection of care and support in Wales.
CFW chair Mario Kreft said the idea included in the White Paper of imposing fees was a matter of great concern to members across Wales.
“We welcome the broad thrust of the White Paper,” said Mr Kreft.
“We’re very pleased that we’re moving to an outcomes-based approach and listening to the people who are receiving social care services.
“Importantly, the legislation will close a loophole which enables firms based in England who provide care services in Wales to go unregulated. From 2015 they will be subject to the same regulation as everybody else.
“We all understand the principle that regulation has to be paid for but we are going to be faced with the perfect storm if registration fees are reintroduced. If we see inspection fees return at the levels they are in England we’re looking fees of £100 per bed per year which would be another burden just at a time when things are already tough. It would also affect domiciliary care.”
Mr Kreft said the vast majority of social care in Wales was provided by the independent sector through the public purse, either from local government or local health boards whose budgets were going to be squeezed many years to come and that if millions of pounds of extra cost had to be picked up by providers, there were bound to be casualties.
“Registration fees were scrapped by the Welsh Government 13 years ago when we all agreed the inspection regime was generating a bureaucracy that was putting even more pressure on the providers and the public purse,” said Mr Kreft.
“We’re now in a worse place than we were when that decision was taken – when there was money being pumped into social care and the economy was thriving, so why don’t we learn from the past?”
Mr Kreft said the main concern Care Forum Wales had was that, even with the White Paper Wales was still a long way from a really joined-up process where independent sector care providers were fully integrated into policy, planning and delivery at a local level.
“It’s better at national level in a policy sense but local government and local health boards could do much more to work in partnership,” he said.
“We have double the number of beds in the independent sector in Wales than we have in the NHS, while the independent sector has nearly as many beds registered to provide nursing care as there are in the NHS.
“We have to be very careful this legislation doesn’t put more pressure on the very services we’re going to need at least in the short to medium term. The population of over-85-year-olds is going to double in Wales in the next 12 to 15 years so it stands to reason we’re going to need to protect these vital community services at a time when new projects are few and far between.”