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Care homes to receive 7% rise in funding for nursing

Care homes will receive a boost to nursing funding from next month, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed.

A standard weekly rate per person, known as NHS-funded nursing care (FNC), as of 1 April 2024, will rise by 7.4% from £219.71 to £235.88.

“The government must now lend consideration to the legal definition of FNC to ensure its fit for the future”

Martin Green

The ‘higher’ rate, which covers a legacy funding scheme dating to 2007, will also rise by 7.4% from £302.25 to £324.50.

These fees are paid to care homes by the government to cover the wages of registered nurses and other associated costs, such as the delegation and coordination of care.

This covers residents who are eligible to receive NHS-funded nursing care, including those who have learning disabilities, long-term physical or mental health needs or conditions associated with old age.

DHSC said the 7.4% uplift to FNC was “based on adult social care data” and evidence submitted by providers.

The department claimed the rise would “reduce the pressure on hospitals” and help prevent a backlog of medically fit patients awaiting discharge from healthcare settings worsening, by increasing capacity in nursing homes.

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It comes after a report by the King’s Fund concluded that the health and care system in England must change its focus out of the hospital and into the community to improve its sustainability and effectiveness.

The 2024 FNC rise is higher than the increase made in 2023 (of 5%), which was described as “inadequate” by Care England chief executive Professor Martin Green at the time.

It is, however, lower than the uplift in 2022 (of 11.5%), when the basic rate increased from £187.60 per week to £201.19.

DHSC’s announcement comes after the unveiling of the UK Government’s plans for the 2024-25 financial year in the form of chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt’s spring budget.

Mr Hunt’s budget included a £3.4bn investment in NHS “productivity” improvements, but received criticism for lacking any specific social care interventions.

National Care Forum chief executive Professor Vic Rayner accused the chancellor of “undermining” past pledges for the sector.

During the announcement of the weekly uplift, DHSC also pointed to £700m being invested to make “major improvements” in adult social care including better training for staff, technology improvements and digitisation.

This money was first pledged in 2023 and forms part of the department’s 10-year “reform vision” for social care, which will include £8.6bn over the next two financial years to improve social care and discharges.

Speaking today, Professor Green, chief executive of Care England, described the 7.4% uplift as a “win” and a “step in the right direction” for the care sector.

Martin Green

“Care England has worked tirelessly with the Department of Health and Social Care over nine years to ensure that the FNC rate reflects the true cost of providing nursing care,” said Professor Green.

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However, he added that Care England’s work was “not done”.

He continued: “The government must now lend consideration to the legal definition of FNC to ensure its fit for the future given the increased levels of complexity seen in residential care, and how care providers have had to adapt their services to meet the ever-changing needs of their residents.

“We need to make sure that not only is care funded appropriately, but that our nursing staff are recognised and rewarded accordingly, in line with NHS nurses.”

Professor Green said the government should now work to “secure” nursing availability in residential social care.

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