More MS news articles for Nov 2001

Charity blames NHS for care home closure

Nov 2, 2001
The Scotsman - United Kingdom

ONE OF Britain's leading care home charities was last night accused of "withdrawing from Scotland" after it announced one of its two homes is to close and the future of the other is uncertain.

Sue Ryder Care, which provides intensive nursing care for patients with neurological problems including multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease, said it will close Binny House in West Lothian, blaming a lack of funding from NHS Lothian for the decision.

Today, representatives from the charity will meet health officials from the Borders to decide the future of the area's Marchmont care home.

Around 24 vulnerable patients in Lothian will be forced to find alternative care before the end of February.

Sue Ryder says there has been "historic underfunding" from Scottish local authorities which it can no longer sustain. It needs local authority funding of around Pounds 900 per patient per week. The Lothian offer is Pounds 680 and the offer on the table from Borders health board is undisclosed.

But Brian Cavanagh, chair of Lothian NHS Board, described the decision as unacceptable.

He said: "I am astounded that after two days of constructive and positive discussions with Sue Ryder Care to resolve these financial problems, a decision has been taken by their HQ in London to close Binny House.

"It is unacceptable that Sue Ryder Care have only recently been dragged to the table at this late stage to discuss this matter which has had such a devastating effect on the residents, their families and the staff at Binny House."

Mr Cavanagh said Lothian NHS was told of the financial problems on 13 August and given an ultimatum that unless the position was resolved Sue Ryder would announce closure of the home on 30 August.

"If Sue Ryder have had ongoing financial problems for some two years that affected Binny House, we have only very recently been alerted to them."

Mr Cavanagh said he would write to the chair of the charity to request that the decision is reversed.

Union officials last night warned 82 members of staff at the Lothian care home would lose their jobs. Eddie Eagen, from the public health union Unison, said: "Sue Ryder has walked away from these talks. The future of the Marchmont home in the Borders now looks uncertain. They are simply withdrawing from Scotland."

Iain Henderson, the chief executive of Sue Ryder Care, said: "Compared to other local authorities, Lothian has contributed a smaller proportion to the total cost of care fees. People with MS need more intensive and costly care as time goes by. As a result in the last 12 years we have given over Pounds 5m to keep the Binny home open. We have been forced to take this very reluctant decision because Lothian has not been able to find enough cash to close the funding gap.

"Even at their highest offer, this funding gap amounts to Pounds 250,000 per year."

© Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2001