The Department for Health and Social Care has agreed to review the rates paid by the NHS for nursing in care homes in the wake of a legal challenge.
NHS-funded nursing care – known as FNC – is provided by registered nurses for eligible people living in care and nursing homes. The health service pays a flat rate directly to homes towards the cost.
“We welcome the move by the DHSC to look again at the 2019-20 rate”
Professor Martin Green
However, cash-strapped care providers have complained money they receive barely covers costs, leaving them out of pocket.
The row comes amid intense pressure on the care sector, which has been hit by staffing shortages - including shortages of qualified nursing staff – and funding shortfalls.
In April this year the DHSC announced standard rates for NHS-funded care would increase by 4.7% from £158.16 to £165.56 for the 2019-20 financial year.
A higher rate available to some people who moved into care homes before October 2007 would also increase by 4.7% from £217.59 to £227.77 per week.
The department said the new rates were based on an independent study of the costs of providing nursing care.
However, the new rate also came with an expectation that nursing home providers would make 3.1% efficiency savings and that no more than 10% of nursing hours would be delivered by agency nurses.
These expectations were unfair, according to umbrella body Care England, which represents independent care providers, and went on to take legal action, threatening a judicial review.
“Any outcome will be announced in due course”
The body challenged the idea struggling care homes were capable of making efficiency savings of 3.1% and the concept of the 10% agency nursing cap.
It also questioned the department’s approach to calculating inflation.
Care England revealed this week the DHSC had agreed to reconsider the 2019-20 FNC rate in light of the legal challenge.
Chief executive Professor Martin Green welcomed the decision to look again at the funding formula and hoped it would mean more money for care settings.
“We welcome the move by the DHSC to look again at the 2019-20 rate and we will ensure we participate openly and fully with the review,” he said.
prof martin green
“We hope this can be conducted speedily and a new rate decision made that increases the current rate to that which properly reflects the costs of providing nursing care to many thousands of people living in nursing homes,” added Professor Green.
Care England said it was currently in discussion the DHSC about the terms and timing of the review.
The department confirmed to Nursing Times that a review would take place.
“The department has agreed to review the 2019-20 NHS-funded nursing care rate and any outcome will be announced in due course,” said a spokeswoman.