£30m care homes bill is ‘national scandal’
Angry care home owners in Wales say they’re owed over £30m in unpaid fees because of a legal battle over who should pay a £20 a week fee for
nursing care provided by care homes.
After more than three years of wrangling, the Supreme Court has reached a decision on a dispute between Welsh health boards, councils and providers, with the court ruling unanimously in favour of the local authorities and saying the health boards had misinterpreted the legal position.
Provider representative body Care Forum Wales said it was ridiculous that the health boards could not have reached an agreement without going to court in the first place. They believe the court costs are upwards of £1m, money they say would have been better spent on providing frontline nursing care for vulnerable and frail care home residents.
Care Forum Wales chairman Mario Kreft said the fees should be backdated so the care homes receive what they should have been paid years ago.
“We are delighted with the ruling of the Supreme Court which upheld what we always firmly believed was the case and what was said in the original Judicial Review secured by a group of providers,” said Mr Kreft.
“We appreciate the support of the local authorities in fighting this case because it was the right thing to do. Today’s decision has finally given us clarity over who should pay the fees and has hopefully brought this sorry saga to an end.
“From the outset, local authorities supported the notion that the amount calculated by health boards should be paid to providers. In fairness to the local authorities, it was the health boards who did not want to engage in discussions to sort this out much earlier.”
Mr Kreft described the protracted litigation as ‘a national scandal’.
“Everybody is in total agreement that this money should be paid to care homes and it is after all taxpayers’ money from the public purse,” he said.
“It really doesn’t matter one jot to Mrs Jones who needs publically funded nursing care who is actually going to pay for that care. All that counts to her is that she receives the care that she needs.
“The upshot is that privately-run care homes have been subsidising health boards at a time when they were already suffering from chronic underfunding. It flies in the face of fairness and natural justice. Effectively this Supreme Court judgement applies to all of the people, all 11,000 plus people in registered nursing beds in Wales today.”