Ladyman’s proposal for national care framework wins thumbs-up

    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,”
    he said.

    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
    patients’ homes.

    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
    keeping.

    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.

     

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