Our Trainee Solicitor for Employment, Andrew Rees, looks at the latest development in the dispute over who pays for nurses delivering social care in residential homes in Wales

This week, a five judge panel in the Supreme Court will seek to provide clarification to both local authorities (LAs) and local health boards (LHBs) in Wales as to who is responsible for covering the costs of patients who need more than general care (provided by LAs) but less than around the clock healthcare (provided by the LHBs).

The issue at the heart of the dispute is whether LHBs are required to fund registered nurses in care homes only when they are providing nursing care or also when they are providing social care to certain residents. The lack of clarity on the issue prompted care home owners to launch, what turned out to be, a successful judicial review on the ground that the LHBs decision to set the funded nursing care rate was based on an erroneous approach to the nursing care costs that LHBs are required to bear causing a funding gap that, having been identified, should have been resolved. On appeal in February last year, the decision was overturned in favour of the LHBs as LAs were ruled to be responsible for the funding of non-nursing duties. With legal clarity on a complex set of regulations desperately needed, the Supreme Court will now decide the matter in a final ruling.

The final decision, which will no doubt have implications for all service users, will be handed down later this year.