Campaigners for people with serious long-term conditions have
welcomed the decision by health minister Stephen Ladyman to
commission a national framework for the assessment of fully funded
NHS continuing care.
The government has previously resisted the move, despite
complaints from patients, charities, the health ombudsman and MPs
about the considerable variation in criteria for continuing health
care between strategic health authorities (SHAs).
But last week Ladyman announced that he had commissioned a
national framework for assessing eligibility.
“Learning from good practice, supported by the findings of our
independent review, we will produce a national approach to
continuing care to improve consistency and ease of understanding,”
Continuing care is a package of care arranged and funded solely
by the NHS for people who need it because of disability, accident
or illness. It can be provided in hospitals, care homes and
The review of nine unnamed SHAs, published last week and
commissioned by the government, finds
evidence of inconsistent criteria for continuing care.
Despite reporting greater understanding of continuing care at a
local level in most areas over the past three years, it adds that
there remains a widespread desire to see national criteria.
“It was still remarked that there remained problems with
variability between SHAs and issues therefore rise about equity for
patients in different SHAs,” it states.
Ladyman’s announcement pre-empts a key recommendation of the
latest report from the health ombudsman on the subject of funding
for long-term care, due to be published later this week.
The report by Ann Abraham, who has previously made decisions in
cases about funding individuals’ care, will recommend national
minimum eligibility criteria understandable to health
professionals, patients and carers. She will also call for
accredited assessment tools, training, and improved record
Charities Help the Aged, Age Concern and the Alzheimer’s Society
said a national framework assessing eligibility would be a major
improvement but called for involvement in its development and
implementation to ensure it was consistent, clear and fair.