Following a legal challenge by Care England, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has been forced to conduct a national review into the rates paid for nursing in care homes.

The Government has agreed to consider requiring the NHS to pay more for the 2019/20 NHS-funded nursing care (FNC) rate, to ease the financial strain on care homes. The NHS pays a flat rate contribution directly to the care home towards the cost of FNC.

Nursing homes rely on registered nurses being permanently onsite but nurses also make regular visits to basic residential care homes.

Care England recently took legal action on the grounds that the FNC’s current funding formula does not, in some cases, even cover a care home's costs. Care England Chief Executive Martin Green said: “We welcome the move by the DHSC to look again at the 2019/20 rate and we will ensure we participate openly and fully with the review."

The body raised concerns over an 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%. It also argued that the approach used by the DHSC to calculate inflation limited the FNC rate.

Care England is calling on the DHSC to conduct the review speedily and make a new rate decision 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 spokeswoman responded: “The Department has agreed to review the 2019/20 NHS-funded Nursing Care rate and any outcome will be announced in due course.”

The findings of the FNC review are expected to be announced later this year.

Last reviewed 9 July 2019