One thousand appeals for funding of continuing care still to be heard

A huge backlog of appeals for full funding of continuing care
still exists despite government statements that the process was
nearly finished, Community Care has learned.

The backlog, which could run to well over a thousand cases and
may take the rest of the year to clear, has been revealed as a
parliamentary health select committee inquiry begins this week into
the funding of continuing, or long term, care.

The situation has arisen because the health ombudsman has told
the strategic health authorities responsible for reviewing the
cases that they will have to reconsider many of their decisions due
to poor processes, such as assessments being done by just one nurse
rather than a multi-disciplinary team.

The government announced last December that it had agreed to a
new national framework for eligibility for funding, as called for
by the ombudsman, Ann Abraham. Her call came in a report following
up the progress of SHAs and primary care trusts in reviewing all
possible cases of injustice.

At the time, community care minister Stephen Ladyman said “good
progress” had been made by the SHAs. Last month, he told parliament
that just one authority was yet to complete its reviews.

However, head of the ombudsman’s continuing care team Colin
Houghton told Community Care there were so many complaints
outstanding that they were having to visit all the SHAs to sort
things out.

“There have been 12,000 retrospective reviews and over half have
not been carried out in a robust manner,” Houghton said. “In nine
of the 10 strategic health authorities that we have visited so far
they have, after a long meeting, come round to our way of thinking
and have agreed to take back all the cases in our queue.”

However, Houghton said managers involved in the process at
Shropshire and Staffordshire SHA had “flatly refused to take any
advice” and the ombudsman would be writing to the chief executive
about this. A spokesperson for the SHA said it believed its
eligibility criteria were lawful and it was awaiting the new
national framework.


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