Wales

Families repaid £70m by Welsh Government after care bill error

Care home

Families who wrongly paid for care home fees have been paid back more than £70m by the Welsh Government.

Many elderly people sold assets to pay for places in residential homes, when the NHS should have paid for it due to their health conditions.

Health boards in Wales have received about 7,500 claims for wrong payments made since 1996.

The Welsh Government said 70% of these had been completed and "just over £70 million" has been repaid.

According to rules, anyone who has assets worth more than £30,000 (including the value of their home if it is unoccupied) pay the full cost of their residential care.

But they do not have to pay if they suffer from certain health problems - then the NHS foots the bill.

One family from Camarthenshire told BBC Wales how they fought for years to get back the money they had wrongly paid.

Dai Davies' cousin, Idris, paid more than £300,000 for his care before he died three years ago.

Mr Davies said he felt it had been his responsibility to claim back as much of the money as possible.

"I don't think they have been completely fair as people have worked throughout their lives... When they want health care for themselves they should pay less as they have paid for it once," he added.

Hugh James Solicitors, who successfully supported families' claims, said some had sold their homes to pay for the care.

Mari Rosser, a partner at the law firm, said: "These decisions are made when people are in very difficult circumstances.

"Maybe they have been through some severe illness and they face serious loss, for example the loss of assets and possibly losing homes. Therefore, we have successfully challenged on behalf of these people, who are in serious difficult circumstances."

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "Earlier this year we introduced an amended process in order to accelerate the speed at which claims are processed.

"We have also developed common reporting criteria across all health boards to ensure that progress in processing claims, and problems or challenges, are captured and managed as early as possible."

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