Cashback For Nursing Home Care

DOZENS of elderly and vulnerable Neath Port Talbot residents are in line for a share of a £167,000 handout. They have been forking out for nursing care when they should have been given it for free.

The local health board (LHB) has now confirmed, following a review, that £167,570 is set to be refunded for the 36 cases deemed eligible for reimbursement. More rebate cases could also emerge.

The review came about after a meeting in April when Dyffryn councillor Martyn Peters held a public meeting to raise awareness that people had been struggling to pay for care they should have been entitled to.

His campaign is being supported by Bleddyn Hancock, general secretary of the National Association of Colliery Overmen (Nacods) South Wales.
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Mr Hancock explained it was often the most frail and confused that were affected in such cases.

“It is mostly elderly and very ill people who are discharged from hospital and the term ‘bed blockers’ is used. But they are not, they are patients,” added Mr Hancock.

He said he believed the situation arose from the lack of geriatric and psychiatric wards in a number of hospitals.

Patients who would once have stayed in these wards were discharged to nursing homes instead. “These are mostly privately run,” said Mr Hancock.

He said a review called a continuous care assessment should take place involving a social worker, a nurse and a doctor or consultant to see if the NHS should continue to pay for their care.

However, Mr Hancock pointed out: “This is where the entire system usually breaks down.”

He said many patients were means-tested, with those who were married and had worked most of their lives ending up the most heavily penalised.

“The reason for that is they have may have paid into a company pension scheme, they might have some savings or have bought their own home.”

Mr Hancock added that patients who needed long-term care, such as dementia sufferers, should be receiving this free.

“Since the NHS was set up, it has been there to provide care,” he said.

Mr Hancock used the analogy of a pregnant woman being refused free treatment because she had means, and added: “If this happened, there would be uproar.”

Plaid AM Dai Lloyd has added his voice to the campaign for a fairer system.

Last month, the Post reported he had put his concerns to Health Minister Edwina Hart, who has promised to undertake a review of the assessment system.

A spokeswoman for Neath Port Talbot LHB confirmed the 36 cases would be refunded, and added: “The Nursing Directorate has a rigorous review process in place for monitoring continuing care cases.”

A Neath Port Talbot Council spokesman said the 36 cases related to those referred to the LHB by the ombudsman.

He added: “In terms of the reference to nursing homes, when an individual is being considered for admission into long-term care by the council, in depth assessments are undertaken. This will include consideration of whether the individual meets the criteria for continuing health care.”

The spokesman went on to say: “Following the assessment process being completed, an appropriate placement to meet the needs of the individual is sought. Where an individual is initially considered to have social care needs, the council ensures those needs are regularly reassessed to ensure the placement still meets the individual’s needs.

“If, during this process, it is felt the individual meets the continuing health care criteria, the council will refer to the case to the LHB for further multi- disciplinary assessments.”