Letter: Minimum wage

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The Independent Culture
Sir: So it's to be pounds 3.60. Well that's all right as far as it goes: my staff are all worth at least double that and they deserve a pay rise. Paying for it is another matter. For a small 21-bed nursing home like mine this will add another pounds 120 per week to the wages bill - more if I preserve pay differentials for senior staff.

In the same week the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published a report showing that fees paid by the government to private nursing homes are pounds 40 per bed week short of what is needed to provide good care.

How far does the Government think that it can stretch the elastic before it breaks? For those who have no rich relatives or extra resources to supplement the fees, pounds 1.89 per hour is all there is for the total cost of care and accommodation. It is easy to see how unscrupulous or even desperate home owners will be tempted to cut corners, and the patients will suffer in the end. They will have the cheapest food, the cheapest and most basic of nursing resources, and of course be looked after by 16-year-olds because they are only pounds 3 an hour.

When nursing homes go bankrupt, or owners give up the strain, as happens every week now, the NHS will be left to pick up the tab. And will it provide full nursing care in a friendly, homely environment for pounds 318 a week?I doubt it.

ANDREW MASKIN,

Yorkshire Branch Secretary, Registered Nursing Home Association, Keighley, Yorkshire

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