The Scottish Government has backed proposals that will see NHS continuing healthcare restricted to patients receiving care in hospitals.
The change will see continuing healthcare renamed hospital-based complex clinical care and bring an end to the NHS covering all the costs of patients placed in private nursing homes under the system.
At present 1,711 patients in Scotland receive NHS continuing healthcare packages, including around 400 who are in private nursing homes and other non-hospital settings.
The proposals were made in the report of the independent review panel formed by the Scottish Government after media reports that the proportion of patients getting continuing healthcare was lower in Scotland than in England.
The panel found that the current eligibility criteria was too open to interpretation and that this was resulting in inconsistencies in the care offered.
To fix this the panel recommended limiting access to continuing healthcare to hospital patients and reducing the eligibility test to a single question: “Can this individual’s care needs be properly met in any setting other than a hospital?”
The panel also called for better data collection processes and said that those receiving continuing healthcare in hospital should have their situation reviewed every three months.
Scotland’s health secretary Alex Neil said: “This report makes a number of recommendations for reforming continuing care and putting in place a system which will be applied consistently and transparently by all NHS boards.
“Where patients are assessed as needing this form of acute long-term care the expert group make clear that most effective and safe way to deliver this is in a hospital setting.
“This is welcome clarification and we’ll now be working with health boards and COSLA to put in place new guidance to underpin this reform of NHS continuing care.”
The Scottish Government said the changes will be implemented by April 2015.
The panel has recommended that nothing should change for continuing healthcare patients who are placed in nursing homes and other non-NHS facilities before the changes are introduced.