Page last updated at 17:19 GMT, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 18:19 UK

Family wins nursing fees fight

Marjorie Eyton-Jones (centre)
Marjorie Eyton-Jones (centre) died in May 2007

After a six-year legal battle, a family has recovered more than £165,000 in nursing fees which were wrongly paid.

Marjorie Eyton-Jones from Benllech, Anglesey, who had Alzheimer's, was admitted to a home on the Wirral in 1998, but had to pay for her care.

Her family was forced to sell her home to fund the nursing fees until her death at the age of 88 in May 2007.

NHS Wirral said it accepted the decision and would reimburse Mrs Eyton-Jones's nursing homes costs.

Mrs Eyton-Jones, a former secretary to the commissioner of police in Hong Kong, was admitted to Ysbyty Gwynedd hospital in Bangor following a fall at home in July 1998.

I was simply told that as she had capital, she had to pay for her nursing home fees... no other option was given
Gordon Line, Marjorie Eyton-Jones's son

Her family was told she needed 24-hour care, and a month later she was admitted to the Manor House Nursing Home on the Wirral to be near her family.

In November 1999, she was transferred to nearby Brimstage Manor Nursing Home, where she remained until she died.

Her family had to prove that she had health needs which meant she was entitled to NHS continuing healthcare, and did not have to pay £1,900 per month needed for her long-term nursing care.

Continuing healthcare means the NHS is responsible for, and fully funds, care. It mainly affects very ill patients, often elderly, in nursing homes.

But it can also apply if a person is in hospital long-term or needs nursing care at home.

Mrs Eyton-Jones's son, Gordon Line said: "The only reason my mother was in a nursing home is because she was very ill and required 24-hour nursing care.

Continuing healthcare

"I was simply told that as she had capital, she had to pay for her nursing home fees. No other option was given."

Mr Line found out about NHS continuing healthcare following an Ombudsman's report in 2003. He then asked for his mother to be assessed under the scheme.

Mr Line added: "I felt it was clear that my mother should have had her fees paid by the NHS."

Lisa Morgan, a solicitor with Cardiff law firm Hugh James, acted for Mrs Eyton-Jones's family.

She said: "Thousands of people across England and Wales are being wrongly charged for nursing care and in many cases, they are forced to sell their family home to pay.

"If the primary reason a person is in a care home is because of their health and all costs should be met for free by the NHS. To date, we have recovered over £6m in nursing home fees on behalf of our clients."

Hugh James Solicitors is representing more than 750 people who claim they have been wrongly charged for nursing care fees in Wales.

She said: "Mrs Eyton-Jones's family were forced to sell her home to fund the nursing home fees. They paid over £165,000 in nursing home fees."

The case to recover Mrs Eyton-Jones's money lasted six years and has involved three health authorities - Powys Local Health Board, Anglesey Local Health Board and Wirral Primary Care Trust.

A spokesman for NHS Wirral said: "This case was considered by the North West Strategic Health Authority at an independent panel review in May 2009.

"NHS Wirral has accepted the decision of the panel and will be reimbursing the nursing homes costs paid by the late Mrs Eyton-Jones."

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