Health department ‘misled’ watchdog

The health ombudsman’s office says the Department of Health misled
it over deadlines for completing case reviews for people denied NHS
continuing care.

Deputy ombudsman Trish Longdon told MPs last week that her office
had felt it had let down complainants after giving them the wrong

She said: “We were concerned that we were misled as to the
timeliness of reviews. The [DoH] gave us an assurance that a
timescale would be met on which we relied and which we passed on to
complainants. That subsequently was not the case.”

The government ordered the reviews after an ombudsman report in
February 2003, which said some people had been denied continuing
care because strategic health authorities had applied inappropriate
or unfair criteria.

An original deadline of April 2004 slipped as did a later one of
July 2004, prompting the ombudsman to write a follow-up report last
December. “We found it regretful that we had to write that report,”
Longdon told the parliamentary health select committee.

But community care minister Stephen Ladyman told the MPs: “None of
my officials have misled anyone. We based those commitments on
estimates that we had at the time.” He said the original deadlines
were missed because health authorities had received an influx of
new cases to re-examine.

He admitted plans for a national framework for continuing care
could result in the abolition of the top band of registered nursing
care contribution to address the confusion in the eligibility
criteria between the two systems.

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