Sturgeon pressed on £50m care charges for advanced dementia patients

NICOLA Sturgeon has promised to investigate if 10,000 people in Scotland with advanced dementia are having the care needs wrongly categorised in a way which is costing them £50 million a year.

The First Minister was pressed on the issue by Labour’s Jackie Baillie following an appeal by Henry McLeish in the Herald on Sunday last week three years after his landmark report recommended this group of patients should have their complex conditions as requiring health related care which would entitle them to free NHS care like those with other progressive terminal illnesses.

Currently, their needs are designated as social care which means they are not entitled to be looked after without personal cost while living in their own homes or in residential care.

The former first minister said the situation facing patients with advanced dementia was a “moral outrage” and called on ministers to address it.

READ MORE: SNP ‘failing’ dementia patients over £50m care costs

Picking up on the Herald on Sunday’s report in Holyrood today, Ms Baillie asked Ms Sturgeon at FMQs: “The First Minister will be aware of a report three years ago about care for people with advanced dementia from a working group led by former First Minister, Henry McLeish.

“However, little action has been taken on one of the key recommendations. We know that people with advanced dementia are having their healthcare needs classified as social care and are wrongly being asked to pay more than £50 million. If those needs were designated as healthcare needs, those people would be treated free at the point of need.

“Will the First Minister act now to ensure that that unfair and unjustifiable approach is changed, so that people with advanced dementia are treated with equity and fairness, and are classed as having healthcare needs?”

Ms Sturgeon responded: “I will of course look into those matters and specifically at the suggestion that people’s care needs are being wrongly designated. I recognise that that is an important point.”

She said that under the free personal care policy brought in by McLeish there was a recognition that “it was reasonable for people to pay part of their accommodation costs, because not to do so would lead to an inequity between those in care homes and those receiving care at home, who still must pay for their own accommodation”. 

She went on: “That is what lies behind the development of the free personal and nursing care policy, but it is important that people’s care needs are properly assessed and categorised.

On the suggestion that that is not happening and people are therefore paying money that, under the current policy, they should not be paying, I will ensure that the matter is looked into and the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care will respond in more detail once we have had the opportunity to do so.”

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