Earlier this year, the Public Accounts Committee released a comprehensive document after it investigated the current state of NHS Continuing Healthcare funding. This funding is specifically to ensure that those who have a primary health need receive fully paid for care. However, the Public Accounts Committee found several major problems. There isn’t a huge amount of data available about NHS Continuing Healthcare and so such a detailed report was welcomed. However, the NHS Continuing Healthcare statistics do reveal several concerning statistics about the funding.
There is wide variation among CCGs regarding the likelihood of granting NHS Continuing Healthcare funding.
It has been found that the amount Clinical Commissioning Groups are spending on NHS Continuing Healthcare as a proportion of their budgets varies significantly. In 2015 to 2016, it was found that as a proportion of their total spending, funding for NHS Continuing Healthcare ranged from 1% to 10%. Another statistical finding that highlighted potential inconsistencies across areas was the fact that within the same time frame, the number of people deemed eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare ranged from 28 to 356 per 50, 0000 people. In some cases that is twelve times less likely to be deemed eligible.
Evidence shows that there are huge delays throughout the NHS Continuing Healthcare process.
In the year 2015-16 one third of all assessments (in nearly 25,000 assessments in total) took longer than the specified 28 days. That’s over 8,000 assessments that took longer than 100 days.
Furthermore, around 10% of clinical commissioning groups reported that on average assessments took longer than 100 days between November 2015 to October 2016.
The majority of healthcare professionals responsible for assessments don’t have specialist medical knowledge of the patient’s condition.
Perhaps most worrying for people trying to navigate the NHS Continuing Healthcare system is that 60% of the healthcare professionals who are conducting the assessments are doing so without “sufficient specialist knowledge” of the medical condition which the person they are evaluating has. This draws huge concerns about whether assessments therefore can consistently and accurately comprehend and list each individual’s primary health needs, which are often quite complex and can vary each day.
Over three quarters of health professionals believe that the NHS Continuing Healthcare system is difficult to navigate.
78% of health professionals believe that the NHS Continuing Healthcare system is difficult for patients and their families to navigate. This is gravely concerning. NHS Continuing Healthcare should be a system that smoothly helps people access the funding they are entitled to. The fact that health professionals believe it is difficult to navigate throws open huge concerns about what obstacles patients are facing, and whether they are having an adverse impact on their chances of securing NHS Continuing Healthcare. People should not be blocked from receiving funding which they are entitled to.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has expressed concerns about NHS Continuing Healthcare.
Due to concerns that clinical commissioning groups could have policies that restrict funding, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has written to 44 CCGs. The EHRC has expressed concerns that such policies could result in disabled people facing institutional care against their wishes. This is also a fear that was raised in an explosive Guardian feature recently, where disabled people (particularly those in receipt of NHS Continuing Healthcare) claimed they felt that their funding was under pressure to be reduced.
What all the figures mean.
The statistics help give huge insight into people’s experiences of NHS Continuing Healthcare across the country. Every day, I speak to people who are struggling with the system whether that is with applications, refunds or those who fear they may lose funding that has already been granted. The statistics reinforce that these are issues that are faced on a wider scale. It also means that NHS Continuing Healthcare funding is likely to come under further scrutiny as pressure grows on the Government to take action to make the system better for patients and their families.
If you have concerns regarding NHS Continuing Healthcare funding or you think yourself or a relative may have a primary health need then contact Just Caring Legal today. Contact Rosalind Hughes by calling now on 0191 556 1078 or emailing at [email protected].