Tougher guidance out on continuing care

The government has responded to mounting concern on access to NHS continuing care by toughening guidance and calling on health bodies to review their eligibility criteria.

Last week’s move was a response to the Grogan judgement in January, in which a High Court judge described existing guidance as confusing and criteria set by the South East London Strategic Health Authority as “fatally flawed” (High Court joins chorus of criticism of ‘unclear’ continuing care system, 2 February).

But it also followed protests involving people refusing to pay the care charges of relatives denied continuing care (Directors fear spread of campaign as relatives refuse to pay charges
, 16 February), and preceded a BBC Panorama programme last Sunday claiming thousands of people had been wrongly denied funding.

The Department of Health guidance, unlike predecessor guidance in 2001, emphasises that the question of whether a person’s primary need for care is a health need is the “overarching test” of their eligibility for continuing care.

It calls on strategic health authorities to review criteria and re-assess people who may have been wrongly denied funding.

This week, the Association of Directors of Social Services called on members to re-examine cases of people in the social care system who may have been wrongly denied full funding by the NHS.

The DH plans to publish proposals on a national framework for continuing care next month.


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