NHS watchdog slams Whitehall efforts on personal care reimbursement

    Inadequate support by the government contributed to the lengthy
    delays in assessing compensation claims for people wrongly charged
    by the NHS for personal care, writes Derren
    Hayes
    .

    Health service ombudsman Ann Abraham said in her annual report that
    despite her warnings last year, the Department of Health had not
    provided adequate support and guidance to assess cases by April
    2004.

    Only 57 per cent of case reviews had been carried out by the
    initial deadline and there are still more than 6,000 outstanding
    requests for review. The government has pledged to finish these by
    the end of July.

    Community care minister Stephen Ladyman has consistently said that
    the delays were due to a higher than expected number of case review
    requests. But Abraham’s said: “While I recognise a
    proportion of requests for reviews were not received until after
    December 2003, it represents a very disappointing performance,
    compounded by the fact reviews are unlikely to be completed until
    the end of July.”

    The review was prompted by a ruling by Abraham’s last year
    that the NHS should pay for the continuing care of people suffering
    from certain conditions. The final bill is expected to cost the
    government more than £180m.

    Annual report from www.ombudsman.org.uk

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