Widow Wins Nursing Costs Battle

An 85-year-old widow has been awarded £42,000 compensation after a battle over free nursing care. The family of Morfydd Jones, from Ystalyfera in the Swansea Valley, began a legal fight two years ago.

The union Nacods claimed thousands of elderly people had been wrongly charged for places in nursing homes which should be provided free by the NHS.

Neath Port Talbot Local Health Board (LHB) said it would “reimburse any monies as appropriate”.

Mrs Jones, who has Alzheimer’s disease, has been paying her own fees for 24-hour care at a nursing home in nearby Ystradgynlais.

Mrs Jones’ family have welcomed the money being returned, but the widow’s son Arwel Jones said he was angry it had taken so long to get it back.

He said: “I know this money has been given back to my mother, but they shouldn’t have taken it in the first place. That’s the point we’re making – they had no right to it.”

Mr Jones began the legal fight to recover the money in October 2004 with the support of mining union Nacods.

Mrs Jones’ late husband was a colliery overman and the union has launched a campaign to win the right to free nursing home care for retired mine workers and their families.

Nacods said the case was passed between neighbouring health boards in Neath Port Talbot – where Mrs Jones lived – and Powys, where the widow is in a nursing home.

A hearing of Powys LHB recommended that Mrs Jones be fully refunded – with interest – the money that she has paid for nursing care since April 2002, adding that she should not pay any more for her stay in the nursing home.

Commenting on the case, Bleddyn Hancock, general secretary of Nacods in south Wales, said: “It is shameful that it has taken nearly two full years to resolve this issue.

“I am delighted that yet again we have been successful in one of these cases and obtained a full refund of the money.

“It fully vindicates our view that thousands of very sick and elderly people in nursing homes and residential homes throughout the country are being wrongly charged for their care.”

In a statement, Neath Port Talbot LHB said it was “unable to comment on the detail in any individual case due to patient confidentiality”.

But it added: “The local health board will adhere to the recommendations made by Powys local health board’s review panel and will reimburse any monies due from the LHB as appropriate.”

Powys LHB said it was responsible for special review panels across Wales to look into family claims for long term care costs, in a seven year period to 2003.

But a spokesman said he could not comment on individual patients.