Ex-councillor in care home place battle

Parkinson Charity wine tasting event held at The West Park Hotel 09. Fred Willis, Margret Willis, Clive Dunnington and Renee Dickinson. AM101009
Parkinson Charity wine tasting event held at The West Park Hotel 09. Fred Willis, Margret Willis, Clive Dunnington and Renee Dickinson. AM101009

A PATIENT with vascular dementia has had his place at a care home his family had chosen withdrawn - just 24 hours before he was due to move in.

Fred Willis, 69, a former Harrogate Borough councillor, was due to take a place at Thistle Hill Care Centre in Knaresborough last Friday - but on Thursday, his family heard North Yorkshire and York PCT had withdrawn the home from a list it had previously agreed.

And instead of contacting the family directly, the PCT called the Rowan Wing at Harrogate District Hospital where Mr Willis is currently being cared for, leaving a nurse to break the news to his wife.

The authority has also taken a second home, Granby Rose, off the list of homes where it will fund places and there are currently no beds available at any of the homes it will pay for.

With his family facing an unachievable bill of £52,000 per year to pay for his care themselves, and being too ill to be cared for at home, Mr Willis - a former borough councillor who represented Pannal for many years - is now staying at Harrogate Hospital indefinitely.

Daughter Helen Nash said she was particularly frustrated that the decision had been made at the last minute, when all the arrangements were in place - and the family had even had a letter from the care home saying staff were looking forward to welcoming Mr Willis.

“We have wasted time looking at homes that they have crossed off the list,” she said.

“We could self-fund, but you have to be a millionaire to do that. You literally have to sell your house and live on the streets.”

Mrs Nash praised the staff at Harrogate Hospital, but said many patients including her father were now “bed-blocking” because they did not need to be in hospital, but could not move on anywhere else.

She added: “My mum was looking after my dad for a long time and really struggled towards the end. There will be lots of families in the community stuck dealing with that now because there are no spaces available.

“We can only be glad my dad is in hospital and being looked after. I can’t begin to think what it must be like for families trying to look after people at home.”

Sue Metcalfe, deputy chief executive at NHS North Yorkshire and York, said: “We apologise for the confusion we have caused Mr Willis’s family at what must be a very difficult time.

“NHS-funded continuing healthcare is complex and we do our best to help patients, carers and families understand how it works and to find them a suitable solution for their needs.

“We will continue to work with Mr Willis’s family to find an appropriate care home as quickly as possible.”

Mrs Nash has asked for a new list of dementia care homes for which the PCT will provide funding, but so far has had no response. A PCT spokesman told the Advertiser it was not possible to confirm the number of specialist care homes it would fund for patients because it depended on their individual needs.

Mr Willis’s family has offered to top-up his funding to pay for the two withdrawn care homes, which are understood to cost more than those remaining on the list. But the PCT spokesman said, unlike in social care, the NHS was not allowed to part-pay for patients’ care so families could only choose from the options the PCT would pay for as a whole.

l Is the PCT right to withdraw funding for the more expensive services? Email ackrill.news@ypn.co.uk or write to 1 Cardale Park, Harrogate, HG3 1RZ.