Mabel a victim of stingy council

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The Independent Online
A 99-YEAR-OLD woman is costing the hard-pressed NHS pounds 350 a day because her social services department refuses to pay pounds 330 a week for her to go into a home.

Mabel Nash, who lives alone in Colliers Wood, south-west London, was admitted to St George's Hospital, Tooting, last month because she could not cope at home.

Her grand-daughter, Sheridan Stevens, explained: "My gran does not need to be in hospital. She is old and frail, not ill."

While Merton Social Services argue about how little they can get away with paying, Mabel occupies an acute NHS bed, and people who need operations are turned away because a bed is not available. It is a situation that is only too familiar.

Merton has offered to pay pounds 235 a week for Mabel to go into a residential home, yet cannot find her a vacancy in a home in the borough for this amount.

Miss Stevens said: "Merton is content for my gran to stay in St George's because it does not cost a penny. The hospital can't discharge her until a home is found."

To add insult to injury, it costs about pounds 400 a week to keep someone in one of Merton's own homes.

A neighbouring assistant director of social services commented: "Merton may be breaking the law. The NHS and Community Care Act 1990 states that the local authority must pay what it would 'normally' expect to pay for residential care.

"Since Merton's own homes cost pounds 400 a week, that figure should be taken as the normal amount. I cannot see how they can argue to the contrary."

Neighbouring boroughs in south-west London are more realistic. Hammersmith pays up to pounds 400 a week for residential care, for example. Lambeth, Wandsworth, Croydon and Kingston pay pounds 350 and Sutton around pounds 330 per week, compared to Merton's pounds 235.

Mabel served in the WRAC in the First World War and was a children's nanny until she retired at the age of 72. "I have spent my life helping others," said Mabel, who has lived in the borough for 90 years. "I don't want to be a burden on anyone, but the time has come for me to go into a home. I'm sure social services would prefer it if I died. It would be cheaper for them."