The family of a war veteran suffering from Alzheimer’s has won more than £250,000 from the NHS for nursing home fees he should never have been charged.
The payout, which is believed to be the biggest of its kind, was awarded to relatives of Leslie Terry, 86, whose home was sold to pay for his £3,500-a-month care.
Despite being totally immobile – he has not been out of bed for four years – and in need of constant nursing, Mr Terry was denied funding under the NHS’s ‘Continuing Care’ scheme.
The scheme is meant to fully fund patients with health needs resulting from conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It applies mainly to those who are in nursing homes, or long-term hospital or home care.
Mr Terry’s nephew, Bryan Talbot, 71, from Banbury, Oxfordshire, who mounted a legal challenge to recover the backdated fees covering eight years, said: ‘My uncle has been unable to get out of bed for four years, he is at risk of choking, has to be fed, and is unable to communicate verbally.
‘I felt it was clear that his health needs meant he should be the responsibility of the Health Service. I am amazed that, despite him having annual assessments, the NHS did not inform me about possible available funding. It’s important people take advice.
‘We’ve had a rough ride to get to this point but I want other people to know you don’t have to sell your home to get the care you need. He has received first class care from very professional staff at Gloucester House Nursing Home.‘
The payout comes after three families last year won a total of £350,000 – with the family home sold in two cases – after being wrongly denied Continuing Care.
So far, more than £9million has been recovered by solicitors representing 2,000 families who claim they have been wrongly charged nursing home fees.
Under English law, the elderly must pay for residential care unless their needs are health-related, when the whole cost is met.
However, Department of Health criteria on who qualifies for health needs are subject to interpretation by individual NHS trusts.
The Daily Mail’s Dignity for the Elderly campaign has repeatedly highlighted the unfairness of the system, which means many families of Alzheimer’s sufferers are being charged for long-term nursing care.
Many are denied funding by Primary Care Trusts, which have to foot the bill, because the disease does not automatically make the patient eligible for NHS ‘continuing care’.
Mr Terry, who joined the Army in 1942 and fought in India and Burma, retired from his job as a porter at Sevenoaks Hospital in Kent, in 1983 before succumbing to dementia in his 70s. He never married.
Mr Terry also suffers from a severe skin disease, which needs monitoring.
Solicitor Lisa Morgan, of Welsh law firm Hugh James, who acted for him, said: ‘Under current government policy, there should be a full assessment on health needs, which determines whether patients pay for their nursing care fees.
‘That is not happening in many cases. With the cost of nursing homes averaging £675 per week, families are still being left with huge fees to pay. There is a clear disparity across the country and, despite national guidance, Primary Care Trusts still apply their own judgment.’
Michelle Mitchell, charity director for Age Concern and Help The Aged, said: ‘The system for deciding where the line is drawn between free NHS Continuing Care, and paid for social care has been a mess for years.
‘We are still very concerned older people may wrongly be forced to pay for their care when it should be free. We strongly encourage anyone who believes they are unfairly missing out to fight for their rights.’Back to News View original article