Complaints about “postcode lotteries” are well-rehearsed in the
world of health and social care services. But few would deny the
seriousness of this problem in relation to the funding of care for
people with chronic conditions.
For years now – and with significant help from the health
service ombudsman Ann Abraham – more and more cases have come to
light of individuals, carers and social services departments being
inappropriately expected to foot the bill for care resulting from a
long-term health problem.
It is unsurprising, then, that Stephen Ladyman’s shift last week
away from locally set criteria towards a national framework for
assessing eligibility for fully funded NHS continuing care has been
welcomed with open arms.
The pressure now must be on developing this national framework
as quickly as possible to prevent more vulnerable people falling
foul of today’s improved yet far-from-perfect system, and on
ensuring that it is implemented in a way that is consistent, clear
This will undeniably require better case management. Social care
workers and care home managers owe it to the people they are caring
for to keep up-to-date records, and to remember that eligibility
for NHS continuing care must be assessed at regular periods, not
treated as a one-off event.