Councils to stop footing bill when NHS wrongly limits continuing care

Councils will stop automatically taking responsibility for service users who should be receiving NHS continuing care, a leading social services director has said.

Jeff Jerome, co-chair of the Association of Directors of Social Services disabilities committee, said he was preparing legal advice for councils on the limits of their responsibilities to provide long-term care.

In their joint response to the government’s consultation on its national framework for continuing care, the ADSS and the Local Government Association emphasised that councils were regularly exceeding these limits in funding people wrongly rejected for continuing care by the NHS.

Jerome, who co-ordinated the response, said: “At the moment if people don’t meet the eligibility criteria for continuing care they automatically become our responsibility.

We are saying we are not going to do that any longer.” In practice, he said councils would retain existing service users
they believed were eligible for continuing care while arguing over their status with primary care trusts, and “in theory” would not take on new cases. But he added: “What we don’t want to see is people going without the care they need.”

In their response to the consultation, the ADSS and LGA joined several other organisations in calling for a public debate on the funding of health and social care.

Paul Cann, director of policy at Help the Aged, one of the other bodies, said he had heard the government was holding “some very serious meetings” about the issue. But the calls come amid pessimism about social care’s prospects in next year’s comprehensive spending review.

An LGA report last week, based on past government statements, said councils faced a funding freeze in real terms and higher efficiency targets from 2008, so any extra investment for social care would have to be found by making savings from existing budgets.

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