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Government to review nursing care rate following legal challenge

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) will review the rates paid for nursing in care homes following a legal challenge brought by Care England.  

Funded nursing care (FNC) is a flat rate paid by the NHS towards the cost of care provided by a registered nurse for people living in a care home.  

But Care England, which represents care homes, said that in some cases FNC rates do not even cover a care home’s running costs. 

In April this year, the DHSC announced it would raise the FNC rate from the current standard rate of £158.16 to £165.56 per week in 2019/20.  

People who were on the higher rate before the single band was introduced in 2007 would also see a 4.7% rise from £217.59 to £227.77 per week.  

The department said the rates were based on an independent study of the costs of providing nursing care. 

Care England raised concerns over the assumption made by the DHSC that nursing homes will not employ more than 10% of nursing hours through agency nurses and will make efficiency savings of 3.1%. 

The representative body also argued the approach used by the DHSC to calculate inflation limited the FNC rate.  

The move by the DHSC comes as a report published this week by the House of Lords found that 1.4 million older people had an unmet care need in 2018. 

In the report, entitled ‘Social Care Funding: Time to End a National Scandal’, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) submitted evidence stating that there are not enough registered nurses in adult social care settings such as nursing homes and residential care homes. 

The RCN continued: ‘Registered nurses report working unpaid overtime to fill gaps, additional stress caused by a high-pressure environment, and describe occasions when vital care is left undone.’ 

Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive of Care England, welcomed the decision to review the 2019/20 rate.  

He said: ‘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 to many thousands of people living in nursing homes.’  

A DHSC spokesperson said: ‘The Department has agreed to review the 2019/20 NHS-funded Nursing Care rate and any outcome will be announced in due course.’