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
    deadline.

    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.

    l Report from www.ombudsman.org.uk

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