Watchdog lambasts ‘slow’ government

Inadequate support by the government contributed to the lengthy
delays in assessing compensation claims for people wrongly charged
by the NHS for personal care, a watchdog has found.

Health service ombudsman Ann Abraham said in her annual report that
despite her warnings last year, the government did not provide
sufficient support and guidance to assess cases by the April

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 (news, June 3, page 6).

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 said: “While I recognise a proportion of
requests for reviews were not received until after December 2003,
it represents a very disappointing performance.”

The review was prompted by a ruling 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.

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