The Government has been urged by a new Public Accounts Committee report to take action to stop potentially thousands of people from missing out on NHS Continuing Healthcare funding. The report has highlighted several serious concerns, all of which have been well documented by those who have experienced of the system in the past.
There is a new target implementation date for changes to be made to help people to be able to access NHS Continuing Healthcare. That target is set for this summer (2018), but whether it is met, and whether the changes have any impact remains to be seen.
The new Public Accounts Committee report comes to several worrying conclusions. These findings have been repeated by the Public Accounts Committee as they were first raised in its initial NHS Continuing Healthcare report at the start of 2018.
“Too many people are waiting too long to find out if they are eligible for CHC, and to receive the essential care that they need.”
For a cost-effective system, and one that minimises the worry and anxiety for patients, we need NHS Counting Healthcare to be implemented (where appropriate) efficiently, quickly and smoothly. This is not happening in many cases and so patients are left to pay for their care when they may be entitled to NHS Continuing Healthcare simply because the process is too slow.
“Some patients are not receiving the care that they are entitled to because they are not made aware of the funding available, or because the system is too difficult for them to navigate.”
At the start of the year, the Public Accounts Committee warned that 78% of healthcare professionals believed that NHS Continuing Healthcare was difficult for patients and their families to navigate. People should not be blocked from receiving funding they are entitled to because the system is too complex and convoluted.
“Patients’ likelihood of getting CHC funding depends too much on local interpretation of assessment criteria, due to poor quality assessment tools and inadequate training.”
While a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) should comprise of one social care and one health care specialist, often the people on the team do not understand the complex needs or specific condition that a patient may have. This means that the true and full scope of a person’s needs may not be taken properly into account. This can severely impact a patient’s outcome in the process.
In addition, the National Framework is a guideline but CCG’s are free to implement it as they see as appropriate. This means that there can be huge variation between different localities as to where is more likely to award NHS CHC. Care decisions should not be a postcode lottery.
“NHS England is not adequately carrying out its responsibility to ensure CCGs are complying with the legal requirement to provide CHC to those that are eligible.”
This is perhaps the most worrying conclusion and could be partially responsible as to why so many CCGs vary in how likely they are to find people eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare. There has to be a commitment to ensuring that those who meet the criteria to qualify for NHS Continuing Healthcare are granted it. Otherwise, the system is deeply unfair.
“It is not clear how CCGs can make £855 million in efficiency savings by 2020−21 without restricting access to care, either by increasing eligibility thresholds or by limiting the care packages available.”
We were warned about this too in the report earlier this year and this warning has been repeated. This could mean that there are substantial changes to NHS Continuing Healthcare if funding is not made available to ensure that free care funding is sustainable if you have a ‘primary health need’.
Our clients face these issues everyday and echo the comments outlined above. When will we see a positive change?
If you think you may be entitled to NHS Continuing Healthcare and/or you have been refused NHS Continuing Healthcare funding, please contact Rosalind Hughes at Just Caring Legal today. Call us now on 0191 556 1078 or email us at [email protected]