Thursday, 24 August 2017

Slashed NHS Targets could put patients at risk

by Elizabeth Faye, Carepal 24th August 2017

A recent letter issued by NHS England to all Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), could mean patients lose out on funding they could be legally entitled to. 

NHS England have notified all CCG’s that less than 15% of all full NHS Continuing Healthcare assessments should take place in an acute hospital setting. Basically, if you have a relative who is currently in hospital and they need ongoing care, in a care home or at home, they are currently assessed as to whether the NHS will pay for or contribute towards their care, prior to their discharge from hospital. These new low targets mean that the NHS will have to potentially pressure families to discharge patients, before it’s known who is liable for paying for their care. To reduce this to less than 15% can only mean that patients and their families are going to be left at risk and out of pocket.

The recent letter from NHS England states that “CCGs are required to submit a plan for improving this to less than 15% by March 2018” and that “CCGs are expected to ensure that full assessments are only undertaken when required”.  As many of you will know, it is already difficult enough to ensure that patients are assessed as there is very little awareness that this funding even exists.

We see a large number of families who don’t even realise that their loved ones in hospital could qualify for funding under NHS Continuing Healthcare, let alone know who or how to ask for an assessment. At the present time, if they do get assessed, the process is so flawed and weighted in the favour of the NHS that we rarely see patients who are entitled to the funding granted it without an appeal.

If the plan is to discharge patients before these assessments are carried out, it will be so much more difficult for relatives to arrange for the assessments to be done. More worryingly, who is to say that their care needs are being met safely at the place they’ve been discharged to, without an assessment?

There is also the financial aspect as to who will pay for their care in the meantime and if they are found that the NHS should have been paying, no doubt they’ll have to appeal for a refund. Yet again, the elderly and most vulnerable in our society are put at risk and made to have to fight for what they have a legal right to.