A lawyer who specialises in advising older and vulnerable people says thousands of patients may be missing out on NHS funding for care that they are legally entitled to, leaving many to meet the costs themselves from their own savings.
Val Prosser, a Senior Associate with law firm Furley Page LLP in Kent, said: “If a person’s needs are primarily health needs, then these costs should be paid by the NHS. Unfortunately, there are many older or vulnerable people who are not aware that NHS Continuing Healthcare funding is available, or who are unable to navigate the complexities in applying for or appealing a decision. “
“This can result in a person using their life savings or selling their home to fund their care when in fact these costs should have been met by the NHS. These concerns have recently featured on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.”
NHS Continuing Healthcare is a package of services arranged and funded by the NHS for people outside hospital with ongoing physical or mental health needs, whether in their own home or a care home. The support is not means-tested and is available to anyone who has significant and complex healthcare needs
Due to funding constraints placed upon the NHS over the past decade, many individuals are finding it harder to access the care they require. Assessment guidelines changed at the end of 2018, causing some people who had previously been eligible, to have their funding withdrawn upon review. New applicants are also finding it harder and harder to be accepted.
Val continued: “The new guidelines have made it more difficult for people to get the support they require, and anyone who has been through the process will tell you that it can be a very long, arduous and distressing process. It’s no secret that the care system is seriously underfunded, but if an individual meets the eligibility criteria then they are entitled to receive this funding support, which can make a tremendous difference to their financial situation.
“The rules concerning the application process can be complex, so if an individual believes that they or a loved one are entitled to Continuing Healthcare, it is important they seek expert advice. A retrospective appeal can also be made if a person was paying for their care but should have been eligible for the NHS-funded scheme.”