Care Homes (New Entrants)

Robert Burns – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 27 February 2003.

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Photo of Margaret Smith Margaret Smith Liberal Democrat 2:30, 27 February 2003

To ask the Scottish Executive what action it is taking to ensure that care homes for elderly people do not refuse new entrants. (S1O-6554)

Photo of Frank McAveety Frank McAveety Labour

The Scottish Executive and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities have made an offer of almost £80 million to the independent care home sector to increase care home fees for older people from 1 April. The offer implements the recommendations of the national review group and has been accepted by the Church of Scotland and the Salvation Army, although we await a formal response from the private sector. Those significant extra resources will bring about a stable future for the care home sector and a choice of good-quality care home services for Scotland's older people.

Photo of Margaret Smith Margaret Smith Liberal Democrat

Does the minister acknowledge that there is considerable concern about aspects of the care home sector? Although voluntary sector organisations have accepted the offer of £406 a week, the private care home sector has not. Will the minister give us an idea of when we can expect a conclusion to the on-going negotiations? Does he agree that, as press reports have said, the Executive has adopted a take-it-or-leave-it stance?

Photo of Frank McAveety Frank McAveety Labour

We made it clear that we wanted to adopt the principle to which all the participants in the national review group, which included representatives of the independent care home sector, signed up. The independent sector is currently consulting its members. It would not be appropriate to issue threats to withdraw new places that should be allocated. We have made a substantial offer—a 20 per cent increase for nursing care homes—and there has been a 30 per cent increase since we began considering the issue. That is a substantial contribution.

We recognise that there are broad issues about capacity and other aspects of the care home sector. We have been enlightened enough to want to engage in that discussion. However, we have made a fair and reasonable offer, which we believe private care home owners should accept.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson Labour

I have already raised with the minister the subject of the uncertainty about the future of Cockenzie House nursing home. Will he acknowledge the concerns of residents and their relatives—and of staff—that the future of the nursing home seems uncertain? Can he assure the chamber that public authorities have the powers and resources to intervene to ensure that the vital work of a nursing home is not interrupted and that patients who need care are admitted?

Photo of Frank McAveety Frank McAveety Labour

I acknowledge John Home Robertson's contribution on this matter. As the constituency member, he has pressed me on a number of occasions to ensure that we can assist in the process. The local authority provider is identifying the ways in which it can address the needs of Cockenzie House in particular. I recognise that any move from a residential or nursing care home is traumatic for individuals who live in that home. The local planning agreement between the health board and the local authority will try to address that issue. I know that the member has raised these issues before and I would be happy to meet him to discuss them if he feels that that would be appropriate.