IFAs play a key role in alerting clients to a little-known compensation scheme for victims of mistakes made by NHS trusts over care home fees, say legal experts.
Lawyers estimate that £100m has been set aside for families to recover care home fees wrongly paid by elderly patients – which means a windfall for IFA’s through referral fees.
However, many IFAs are unaware of the scheme – and the tight March 2013 deadline – because NHS trusts are barely promoting the policy by only fulfilling its minimum obligation to do so.
Many victims had to sell their home to pay for their care even though they were entitled to full funding.
Alarmingly even family members who kept appealing the initial decision and were rejected again and again – have now been told they were entitled to funding after all.
Experts say new deadlines to make a claim set by the Department of Health have been poorly communicated and ‘smack of a cover up’.
Andrew Farley, director of Farley Dwek Solicitors, which has set up a dedicated free advice line for IFA’s said:
“IFAs have a key role to play in raising the profile of this national disgrace. If the Government is to avoid being accused of a cover up it has to give the NHS the resources it needs to communicate this policy effectively. Putting it up on a single webpage where it will never be found is scandalous.
“We estimate the Government has earmarked at least £100m for the relatives of victims but we believe they are quietly satisfied at the relatively slow take thanks to a strategy of trying to keep the issue low profile. By highlighting the issue with IFA’s hopefully more victims will come forward.
“If your client or a relative of a client was rejected for funding on financial eligibility aloneand their healthcare needs were never consideredthen they should challenge the decision immediately. We’re handling more than 250 cases and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
Farley Dwek has set up a specialist IFA hotline for advisers who need more advice (0161 272 5222).
A new deadline of 31st March 2013 has been set by the Department of Health for families to lodge a claim to recover care home fees spent between 1st April 2011 and 31st March 2012.