Continuing care framework fails to reduce postcode lottery

Age Concern has said primary care trusts are failing to implement consistently the national framework for continuing care.

It made the claim after government figures revealed huge local variations in provision. The charity called for closer monitoring of PCTs with regularly high or low rates and said trusts needed to “check immediately” whether health workers, including GPs, were trained in the framework.

DH to review framework

The call comes as the Department of Health is reviewing the framework, introduced in October 2007. Under continuing care, people whose primary need for long-term care is due to a health condition have their full costs met by PCTs, including care home costs and personal care. The framework was designed to end the postcode lottery by introducing a national standard.

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But the figures revealed that the number of people receiving continuing care per 50,000 population ranged from nine in South East Essex Primary Care Trust to 106 in Ashton, Leigh and Wigan PCT. The average was 40 per 50,000 population. The overall number receiving continuing care increased from 37,920 in the first quarter of 2008-9 to 40,449 in the second quarter.

Explanation needed

Age Concern director general Gordon Lishman said that while some of the differences could be explained by population need, this was “not an adequate explanation for the total variation”.

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services continuing care lead Ruth Lally said the figures reflected inconsistencies in data collection, but also suggested “a very serious postcode lottery”. A DH spokesperson said the review was addressing the quality of data.

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