NHS continuing healthcare (CHC) funding is intended to help some of the most vulnerable people in society, who have significant healthcare needs. But too often people’s care is compromised because no one makes them aware of the funding available, or helps them to navigate the hugely complicated process for accessing funding. Those people that are assessed spend too long waiting to find out if they are eligible for funding, and to receive the essential care that they need. About one-third of assessments in 2015−16 took longer than 28 days. In some cases people have died whilst waiting for a decision. There is unacceptable variation between areas in the number of people assessed as eligible to receive CHC funding, ranging from 28 to 356 people per 50,000 population in 2015−16, caused partly by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) interpreting the assessment criteria inconsistently. The Department of Health and NHS England recognise that the system is not working as well as it should but are not doing enough to ensure CCGs are meeting their responsibilities, or to address the variation between areas in accessing essential funding. NHS England wants CCGs to make £855 million of efficiency savings in CHC and NHS-funded nursing care spending by 2020−21, but it is not clear how they can do this without either increasing the threshold of those assessed as eligible, or by limiting the care packages available, both of which will ultimately put patient safety at risk.
15 January 2018