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Nursing Association 'disappointed' over Government's 'derisory' NHS-funded nursing care reduction

Article By: Melissa McAlees

The NHS-funded nursing care (NHS FNC) standard rate is being reduced from £156.25 to £155 - a decrease of £1.25 per week as from 1 April 2017, following a review of agency costs by the independent accountancy firm Mazars LLP.


Funded nursing care is designed to fund services provided to nursing home residents by a registered nurse involving either the provision of care or the planning, supervision or delegation of the provision of care.

Dissatisfied with the decrease, Frank Ursell, chief executive of the Registered Nursing Home Association, said: "It’s difficult to put into words the disappointment felt over such a derisory reduction.

"Over the years there has been little change to the value of the Registered Nursing Care Contribution (RNCC), now called Funded Nursing Care, despite significant increases in the costs being met by nursing homes."

The Royal Commission on Long-Term Care for the Elderly, published in July 1999, called for free nursing and personal care to be available for all. In the event, only nursing care was deemed to satisfy the doctrine of 'health care free at the point of delivery' and the Registered Nursing Care Contribution (RNCC) was introduced for people who were being cared for in registered nursing homes.

In July 2016, the Department of Health announced a 40 per cent increase in FNC from the then current £112.00 to £156.25 per week, based on its assessment of the "reasonable cost" of funding the service, but qualified that announcement as being an interim award and called upon Mazars to undertake an enquiry into the value of the agency costs being met by nursing homes.

Following the review, the Government recently announced the FNC will be reduced from £156.25 to £155 - a reduction of £1.25 per week.

The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) annual report in 2016 identified adult social care at "tipping point," with many independent organisations also confirming the current fragility of the sector, including Mr Ursell.

"One must ask the question, where does this reduction sit in the whole scheme of things?" he added. “The budget reported a £2bn increase in funding and a Green Paper in the summer to look at the whole question of funding?

"In the meantime, a payment which is made to individuals, whether funded by local authorities or themselves to cover the cost of their health care needs is to be reduced by £1.25 per week - an amount which will probably be lost in the transaction cost of making the changes."

In announcing the 40 per cent increase last year, the Government committed to further review the contribution of agency staff costs to the rate. In line with Mazars' latest evidence, the Government will reduce the agency cost of the rate by £3.29.

The reduction is partially offset by an uplift in the remainder of the rate by 1.7 per cent to reflect overall nursing wage pressures.

The Department of Health plans to consult on the introduction of a regional rate of NHS-funded nursing care ahead of future rate change announcements.

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