THE national association representing nursing homes is reporting Wirral Council to the Health Secretary, accusing the authority of a “smash and grab” raid on money intended for vulnerable elderly people.
The council has come under fire for a cut in the fees it pays to nursing homes caring for elderly patients who qualify for financial support from the local authority.
But the council says it consulted prior to bringing in the changes and insisted it remained “one of the highest fee-paying authorities in the region”.
The Registered Nursing Homes Association (RNHA) called the council’s move a slap in the face for those who care for some of Wirral’s most vulnerable residents.
From this month, Wirral Council has terminated all contracts with nursing homes and has given them an ultimatum either to accept the cut or to stop providing services to the local authority.
It means that every council-funded patient in every nursing home throughout Wirral will see around £14 a week lopped off the amount paid by the council to meet the costs of their care.
According to the RNHA, in a typical 40-bed nursing home this amounts to £560 a week or just over £29,000 a year.
RNHA chief executive officer Frank Ursell said: “We regard this action as totally unacceptable.”
He added: “The excuse offered is that the money that nursing home patients receive from the NHS towards their care has gone up by an almost equivalent amount.”
The RNHA says it will be writing to the Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson, to protest at the action and to ask him to intervene directly.
A spokesman for Wirral Council said: “Even with this modest reduction Wirral remains one of the highest fee-paying authorities in the region.”