Too many people with learning disabilities are being assessed as eligible for NHS continuing healthcare in a handful of areas, in a diversion from best practice, a top civil servant has claimed.
The government’s national director for learning disabilities, Rob Greig, said that in some areas “a very large number” of service users were receiving continuing care. This is where the NHS fully funds a person’s long-term care needs because they arise from a health need.
Greig said people with learning disabilities would not be able to assert the same level of control under continuing care than they would if their social care needs were met by councils, because of different frameworks.
While he admitted “a small number of people” with learning disabilities should be receiving continuing care in each area, Greig said that in this minority of areas, councils and primary care trusts were applying an “all or nothing” approach, with funding either provided by one or the other.
He added that people with profound and multiple disabilities or those with severe challenging behaviour were tending to come under the NHS, which was out of line with the 2001 Valuing People white paper.
Greig called for a partnership funding approach in these cases, with the NHS meeting health needs and councils accommodation and basic living support.
However, David Stout, director of the NHS Confederation’s Primary Care Trust Network, which represents the majority of PCTs, said he was “not aware of any instances” of “all or nothing” funding and supported a “joined-up approach”.
Anne Williams, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, reiterated this point, and said: “The principle that people with learning disabilities should be able to live as ordinary a life as possible isn’t just a principle: it is an important aspiration which our health and social care systems should be designed to match.”
More informationThe consultation on Valuing People Now – the follow-up to the 2001 white paper – closes on 28 March
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