A social care leader has slammed a £1 million court battle between local authorities and health boards that’s depriving vulnerable people of much needed care.
According to Care Forum Wales the cost of the head to head that’s due to end up in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, April 26, could have funded nursing care for 128 individuals for a whole year.
Chair Mario Kreft MBE hit out saying it was a complete waste of public money at a time of austerity.
The nub of the case is around should pay a £20 a day feed for nursing care provided by care homes.
According to Mr Kreft, everybody is in agreement that the money should be paid – but the Welsh health boards say local authorities should pay it and vice versa.
The issue has been dragging on for several years and independent care providers are angry they have collectively lost out on millions of pounds because of the row that’s meant that nobody has been paying them what they are owed
A group of care home owners secured a judicial review which ruled in their favour.
The health boards successfully appealed the decision which will now be considered by the Supreme Court.
Mr Kreft said: “We have older people and many of them in the latter part of their lives about four per cent of people aged over 80 need care in a residential or nursing home.
“There was a shortfall in the funding so we asked the health boards to look closely at the costs.
“As a result, it was decided there should be extra funding for those care home residents receiving nursing care through the local authority.
“That amounted to just over £20 a day and at the end of it the health boards decided that it was justifiable but that it should be funded by local authorities. The local authorities say otherwise.
“We estimate the local authorities and the health boards will have spent at least £1 million between on solicitors and barristers in the High Court, Court of Appeal and in the Supreme Court.
“By our calculations, this would have funded 128 people for funded nursing care for a year. Put another way, assuming fixed budgets, 128 people have lost out on nursing care.
“The bottom line is that the money should have been paid and should have been paid a long time ago, it’s crazy that we’re still in this situation where people are arguing.
“In fact, it is an outrage and an affront to the people who need the services and their families, to those people who are providing them and are working in the service.
“The Welsh Government should have knocked heads together to make sure that we’re not spending huge amounts of public money in the courts in London and ultimately as the very famous saying goes, it is much better to have jaw jaw than war war.
“The amount of money being spent on legal fees is ludicrous. The cost is eye-wateringly expensive. This money should have been spent on delivering front line care to people.
“The reality is that the money would be coming from the public purse, whoever foots the bill. The vulnerable people who need care aren’t in the least concerned which pot of public money the funding comes from.
“The fact that the health boards and local authorities are going head to head against each other in the highest court in the land besmirches our country.
“Let’s be honest, the chief executives of the health boards have all agreed this money should be paid. They’re just saying not out of my budget mate – this is an extreme form of nimbyism.
“Independent providers across Wales are entitled to this money for providing the care of older people.
“Care homes in Wales have almost twice the number of beds as the NHS and we also have more people being paid for by health boards in private sector nursing homes than there are people in beds in Wales in the NHS.
“This is a pathetic and very expensive squabble. We’d like to have a huge outbreak of common sense in the town halls and health boards in Wales. The public deserve a fairer deal on this.”