The NHS could face a multi-million pound bill to compensate
dementia sufferers, disabled people and those with chronic
illnesses who have been wrongly made to pay for their long-term
A report by the health service ombudsman upheld claims that four
older people from different health authorities were forced to pay
for their long-term care in care homes.
Ann Abrahams called for the four authorities to identify other
patients similarly affected. She said: “Significant numbers of
people and sums of money are likely to be involved.”
The report followed complaints about the way Dorset, Wigan and
Bolton, Berkshire and Birmingham Health Authorities had set and
applied eligibility criteria for NHS funding for the continuing
care of older and disabled people.
But Abraham said, although her investigation had found the guidance
to have been misapplied by some health authorities and trusts,
there were also “fundamental problems” with the system.
She called on the Department of Health to clarify its guidance on
the system of eligibility for NHS funding of continuing care. “The
DoH’s guidance and support have not provided the secure foundation
needed to enable a fair and transparent system of eligibility for
funding to be operated across the country,” she said.
A DoH spokesperson said the department would “reiterate to
strategic health authorities their responsibility to review
continuing care criteria and agree with local councils one set of
He added that guidance to accompany the delayed discharges
legislation going through parliament would “make clear that the
first decision following an assessment of a patient’s needs prior
to discharge is whether they require NHS continuing care”.
Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrats’ spokesperson on older people,
warned that the change could cost taxpayers millions. “Tens of
thousands of elderly people have been illegally forced to pay for
long-term care that should have been free.”
The Alzheimer’s Society said three-quarters of people in long-term
care had a form of dementia, but many were being forced to pay for
their care themselves.
– NHS Funding for Long Term Care from www.ombudsman.org.uk