Sick woman must pay for long-term care: Nicholas Timmins reports on a dispute over who should pay for a patient's continuing care

A 62-year-old woman suffering from a rare incurable brain disease and the effects of a stroke is having to pay for her own nursing care in Leeds at a cost of about pounds 1,000 a month.

Jean Gittins is doubly incontinent, unable to walk, feed or dress herself, and needs 24-hour nursing care. She was discharged from St James's Hospital in December to a private nursing home where her savings of pounds 15,000 are being docked down to pounds 8,000 for the first 24 weeks of her care. Her husband Fred is now set to face his own financial assessment to see if he should contribute towards the cost.

The case has come to light as Leeds Healthcare, which was fiercely criticised by the Ombudsman three months ago for its failure to provide long-term care to a profoundly brain-damaged man, has yet to complete the review of its policy that was promised when the Ombudsman found against it.

Three other cases all pre-dating the Ombudsman's ruling have been forwarded to the authority by the local Community Health Council, but Leeds Healthcare has yet to decide whether it will pay the nursing home fees for Mrs Gittins and the other cases.

Health ministers have repeatedly said that there is 'a clear obligation on health authorities to pay for continuing health care of seriously ill patients'.

Mr Gittins, whose wife's case is featured on BBC 2's Public Eye tonight, said yesterday she had gone into hospital in July 1993 for a brain biopsy needed to diagnose her condition. After the operation she had a brain haemorrhage, followed by memory loss, double incontinence, chest and urine infections. 'They decided there was nothing else they could do for her and that they wanted her bed. They were pressurising me to get her out and into a private nursing home.' He was handed a financial assessment form by social workers and told his wife would have to pay the fees for the first 24 weeks because she had pounds 15,000 in savings. 'This was money she had worked for and saved, and had already willed for the grandchildren,' Mr Gittins said.

'But they said she wasn't dead, so the money was hers.'

In fact his wife was briefly discharged home where Mr Gittins tore his shoulder attempting to shift her 11-stone weight before his GP insisted she be readmitted to St James's. Several weeks later she was discharged to the nursing home. Mr Gittins said: 'I feel that the NHS should have picked up the tab from the word go.'

His wife's case, he said, was 'not identical to the one the Ombudsman criticised the health authority for, but it is similar to it.

'There was pressure put on me to move her out of hospital and there appears to be nowhere in Leeds for the longer-term care on the NHS of brain-damaged patients. They have closed all the facilities down.' Jean Townsend, secretary of the Leeds Community Health Council, said the health authority had sent a holding letter saying it could not take a decision yet on Mrs Gittins's case because of the complexity of the issues. Effective national guidance was desperately needed, she said, for the sake of staff who were faced with the task of telling patients that they had to leave hospital, as well as for patients. 'At the moment, different health authorities interpret things differently.'

Leeds Healthcare said: 'We must emphasise that this is a national issue and we are taking advice from the NHS Executive and exploring other district health authorities' policies across the country.' It could not yet say how many cases it would have to provide for, 'or what services will be necessary to care for them. However, once the review has been completed, appropriate contracts will be placed for the provision of these services.'

The authority told the Ombudsman last year that if it had to pay nursing home fees 'it would soon become financially overstretched'. The National Association of Health Authorities warned then that an insistence that the NHS pay for continuing health care could prove 'a financial time- bomb' for the Government.

Leading article, page 17

(Photographs omitted)

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: One of SThree's most successfu...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Progressive Rec.

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Progressive Recruitment are cu...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices