Thousands people in England are missing out on NHS funding for care they are legally entitled to, it has been claimed.
Val Prosser, a lawyer who specialising in advising older and vulnerable people, said many of her clients and thousands of others are not aware that NHS Continuing Healthcare is available to them, or are unable to navigate the complexities in applying for it or appealing a decision.
The senior associate with law firm Furley Page said: “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.”
This topic was the subject of the BBC’s recent Victoria Derbyshire programme, which featured several families who had spent their live savings on home care.
According to the BBC, every year around 160,000 applications are made for continuing healthcare, costing the NHS around £3bn.
Lloyd Tingley, chairman of the Continuing Healthcare Alliance, said the system is a “national scandal”.
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.
But 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guidelines changed at the end of 2018, causing some people who had previously been eligible, to have their funding withdrawn upon review.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 to be accepted, according to Prosser.
She 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.”