Years of government spending cuts are starting to threaten the human rights that underpin our way of life. Many of those rights have become so ingrained we take them for granted. Spend time with a person who needs care, however, and it may soon become clear what is at stake. Dignity. Family life. Choice. Independence. Restricting NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding for home-care is threatening these basic rights. Some decision makers in local government and the NHS think they are values we can no longer afford.
The thought of “warehousing” people with care needs to reduce costs is something many disagree with. The disability rights movement won the battle for independent living in the 1970s and 80s. It enabled many people to live at home with the right support.
Now it is starting to feel like we are reversing back down that road. Research by the pressure group Disability United found some local NHS groups are limiting people’s right to receive care at home. A number of Clinical Commissioning Groups operate policies that may effectively force people into residential care.
At least 37 CCGs put restrictions on NHS Continuing Healthcare funding.
The Health Service Journal found at least 37 CCGs are restricting NHS Continuing Healthcare funding for home care. Many won’t fund care at home if it is more than a certain percentage (often 10%) above care home costs. Disability United estimates around 22,000 people could be affected.
Disability United’s Fleur Perry, explains what this means.
“Somebody who has never met the person in question can sign a bit of paper and change everything about a person’s way of life. They could read a summary of a person’s medical needs, look at the cost, decide where they’re going, send a letter, have a taxi arranged and that would be the end of the matter. It wouldn’t make a difference whether the person was happy to be moved or not, or whether their health needs were well provided for in their own home.”
It’s a scary thought. Some CCGs justify restricting NHS Continuing Healthcare funding for home-care on the basis of achieving value for the taxpayer. But many have taken advice on whether their policies leave them open to legal challenge. Not only do these policies fail to comply with the National Framework on NHS Continuing Healthcare, they may also infringe patients’ human rights to a private or family life.
Policies allow CCGs to make decisions based on financial rather than human cost.
These policies are often couched in quite vague terms. Trafford CCG, for example, in Greater Manchester, says home care packages of more than eight hours a day indicate a “high level of need”. These “may be more appropriately met within a care home placement”. They say decisions are on a “case by case basis”. In this age of austerity, however, those words have a sense of foreboding. They just give more latitude for decisions based on financial cost rather than human needs.
Anecdotal evidence suggests CCGs may be restricting NHS Continuing Healthcare funding on a “case by case basis”. One commenter on the Disability United website, whose husband needs 24/7 care, said she was being effectively forced to accept an inadequate care package as the price for him remaining at home. This chimes with similar stories we have heard at Just Caring Legal. Some families are also being asked to “top up” home care packages. However this is not permitted under NHS regulations.
We must not let such policies lead us back to the old days of institutionalised care. We cannot make choices about how and where people live out their lives in this piecemeal way. There needs to be a proper discussion about what kind of a society we are, and want to be. Vulnerable people need a voice to ensure their human rights are not ignored due to funding cuts.
This is where Just Caring Legal can help. As a solicitor’s firm specialising in NHS Continuing Healthcare cases, your Just Caring Legal solicitor can ensure decisions on your case are in line with the National Framework. We can also ensure you have received everything you are entitled to.
Contact us today for a free initial assessment of your case.