Elderly ‘Still Paying For Care’

Thousands of elderly people will still be denied their legal entitlement to free long term nursing care despite proposed changes to the system, according to a lawyer fighting for free care. The government has published proposals which aim to clarify who should receive free care in nursing homes in England and started a consultation. But Nicola Mackintosh, who represented Pauline Coughlan in a test case to keep NHS care free, says that 1999 ruling will continue to be ignored by the NHS.

She said of the government’s proposals: “This is a missed opportunity. Instead of all the doctors, all the nurses, all the social workers, the relatives, carers and residents being put through the agony of continuing injustice it would be much better if that money which was spent on resolving disputes, doing assessments, was actually spent on health care.”

She was speaking in a Panorama film to be shown on Sunday which also features interviews with families of people who have been granted fully funded care in nursing homes but have it taken away from them.

And Panorama also found out that people who pay for their own care and are ‘self-funded’ pay more than ‘fully-funded’ residents for the same care in the same homes.

Self-funders also feel that they are isolated from the NHS. Linda Jones whose uncle pays for his care said: “You’ve got money, you’ve got savings, you’ve got property you know you have to fund it. And that is the message I’ve got wherever I’ve gone, whatever I’ve done.”

Defending the system of continuing care, the health minister, Ivan Lewis, said: “If you look at continuing care, if you look at nursing care in a nursing home setting, the government is actually willing to make a very, very significant contribution. In terms of social care there has always been a means testing approach to those issues and I would contest honestly that no government could suggest that social care could be offered free to everybody. It’s not going to be affordable nor realistic.”

Panorama made The National House Swindle: The Growing Scandal after thousands of viewers emailed and called the BBC with their stories following the first Panorama film about NHS care for the elderly shown in March.

The National House Swindle: The Growing Scandal will be screened on Sunday 23 July at 2215 BST on BBC One and at bbc.co.uk/panorama where it will also be available to watch on demand.