News release issued on behalf of NACODS South Wales
STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 12.01pm Monday, September 12, 2005
NACODS IN LEGAL FIGHT OVER NURSING CARE
THE union which won the right to compensation for thousands of
miners for industrial injuries is to go to court again - to fight
for the right to free nursing home care.
The National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers (NACODS) South Wales claims that tens of thousands of people across the UK are being wrongly charged for places in nursing homes which should be provided free as 'continuing care' by the NHS.
Bleddyn Hancock, general secretary of NACODS South Wales said: "This is a case where people have been swindled out of their savings, hounded out of their homes and conned out of the free care they deserve.
"The Government should urgently look to reimburse those people they have wrongly charged."
The Court of Appeal has already stated that the NHS must pay when a person's primary need is a health need, but Mr Hancock says a patient needs to be 'at death's door' before the NHS is willing to pay.
Now the union is to mount legal challenges against local health
boards that are refusing to pay for the nursing care of some of
NACODS believes that if the test cases are successful they could result in health boards across the UK reviewing the cases of hundreds of thousands of nursing home residents who are being wrongly charged for their care.
Mr Hancock claims that the action could have the same impact as
the miners' compensation case - which resulted in the largest
industrial injury payout in history.
Cases that the union plans to fight include that of Morfydd Jones from Ystalyfera in Neath Port Talbot.
The 85-year-old widow requires 24 hour care at Cwrt Enfys Nursing Home in the town.
She has endured a long history of deteriorating health, and then suffered a series of small heart attacks. However, her husband, despite being registered blind, was able to look after her with help from the family and home carers.
Morfydd's health continued to deteriorate, however, and she was admitted to Ystradgynlais Community Hospital.
But because she needed ongoing care and could not look after herself she went into nursing home care and is currently at Cwrt Enfys where she has been for around three years.
Now she is also suffering from Alzheimer's disease and needs 24 hour supervision.
The nursing home fees are not paid for by the NHS despite the need for continuing care, periods in hospital and continuing medical deterioration.
Her son Arwel said: "My parents sold their house in Ystalyfera because when my mother started having the strokes it was easier for them being on the ground floor.
"But my mother still has to pay for the nursing home with whatever money she had and she was in receipt of my father's superannuation pension from the coal board."
Arwel says his mother should not be paying her own nursing home fees.
"I don't feel it should be paid by my mother. Don't get me wrong - if she won the lottery she wouldn't be able to spend the money because of the state she is in - that isn't the point. It is nothing to do with the money.
"I always remember my father telling me he was paying into his pension because he believed in the system. They were not earning very much but he started at an early age as an overman in a colliery because he wanted to have it in their retirement."
The union is being supported in its legal action by Hugh James Solicitors, which has worked closely with the union during a series of recent compensation battles.
Nicola Martin, from Hugh James Solicitors, said: "Hugh James has worked with NACODS for over 20 years, supporting the union in its successful campaigns to gain access to justice for its members.
"NACODS deserves enormous credit for redressing the balance in favour of the ordinary working man and woman and has an unrivalled track record in the field of industrial diseases.
"The union's ground-breaking work in gaining recognition for disabling work-related conditions such as Vibration White Finger and chronic chest diseases should not be underestimated and we will work with NACODS to help ensure success with this latest campaign to win the right to free nursing home care for retired members."
A series of public meetings have also been organised by NACODS across South Wales for people to discuss the issue of NHS Continuing Care.
They will be held at:
NACODS SOUTH WALES: NOTES FOR EDITORS