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Legal Support Often Essential In Battle for NHS Continuing Care

Families caring for severely disabled children and adult children increasingly face difficulties in obtaining the funding they are entitled to, but legal support can be the key to unlocking extra assistance according to a legal specialist.

A recent BBC report has exposed the challenges faced by families trying to secure adequate NHS continuing healthcare for their disabled family members.

Continuing Healthcare is a package of care funded by the NHS for individuals with a primary health need, regardless of the individual’s ability to pay for their care. If someone is found eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare, or Children and Young People’s Continuing Care if they are under 18, their care is provided and funded by the NHS Integrated Care Board.

Lucie Glover, a Chartered Legal Executive in Furley Page’s Elderly and Vulnerable Client Team, said: “The process for claiming fully funded NHS continuing healthcare causes people a great deal of stress as the rules concerning the process are complex and confusing. To qualify, an assessment will be carried out by the NHS, which looks at the person’s health needs in detail and determines whether they meet the strict criteria for support.

“However, even when the claim has been successful, some families find that they still need to fight for the correct provision of care for their disabled family member. Reports suggest that care is often insufficient to meet their loved one’s needs, or that the start of care provision is delayed, meaning the family must continue to fund care privately, often at great expense.”

Some 33,000 adults are in receipt of long-term Continuing Healthcare support in England, while at least 4,500 people under 18 years of age receive Children and Young People’s Continuing Care.

The recent BBC report looked at 105 families who are struggling to obtain support to provide their children with the best possible care, in the most difficult of situations. Whilst the families had been successful in obtaining NHS Continuing Healthcare funding, the care put in place by the NHS was often insufficient, meaning that families were needing to provide round the clock care, or care was withdrawn completely.

Lucie continued: “Unfortunately, the problems identified in the BBC report are all too common and it appears that an increasing number of families are struggling to secure the support they are entitled to. Sadly, this problem seems to be ever increasing as the NHS’ budgets are stretched even further and for many families, legal support is the only avenue left to them.”