Long-term consistency

    Complaints about “postcode lotteries” are well-rehearsed in the
    world of health and social care services. But few would deny the
    seriousness of this problem in relation to the funding of care for
    people with chronic conditions.

    For years now – and with significant help from the health
    service ombudsman Ann Abraham – more and more cases have come to
    light of individuals, carers and social services departments being
    inappropriately expected to foot the bill for care resulting from a
    long-term health problem.

    It is unsurprising, then, that Stephen Ladyman’s shift last week
    away from locally set criteria towards a national framework for
    assessing eligibility for fully funded NHS continuing care has been
    welcomed with open arms.

    The pressure now must be on developing this national framework
    as quickly as possible to prevent more vulnerable people falling
    foul of today’s improved yet far-from-perfect system, and on
    ensuring that it is implemented in a way that is consistent, clear
    and fair.

    This will undeniably require better case management. Social care
    workers and care home managers owe it to the people they are caring
    for to keep up-to-date records, and to remember that eligibility
    for NHS continuing care must be assessed at regular periods, not
    treated as a one-off event.


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