At last, National TV has highlighted the national scandal surrounding thousands of vulnerable patients who have been refused NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding (‘CHC’ for short) which they are legally entitled to. Here’s a link to the BBC’s main news item and Victoria Derbyshire’s current affairs news programme on Tuesday 11th June in case you missed it https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0005x2h/victoria-derbyshire-11062019.
If you are new to NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding, then in simple terms, if your relative has a ‘primary healthcare need’ ie care needs over and above which the Local Authority (Social Services) are lawfully entitled to provide, then they may be entitled to FREE funded care for all their needs, including, accommodation.
Victoria Derbyshire exposed this whole national scandal. Families have saved all their lives, paid their taxes, and at a point when they need help from the NHS, it is not available to them. The National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare and NHS-funded Nursing Care (revised 2018) makes it very clear on page 51, paragraph 180 that “NHS care is free at the point of delivery. The funding provided by CCGs in NHS Continuing Healthcare packages should be sufficient to meet the needs identified in the care plan. Therefore it is not permissible for individuals to be asked to make any payments towards meeting their assessed needs”. Yet, most of the population don’t even know NHS Continuing Healthcare exists!
Put plainly, if you have a primary healthcare need, then all your care needs should be met in full by the NHS. You either qualify for CHC or you don’t.
Victoria Derbyshire’s programme provided powerful and emotional testimonies, and exclusive interviews from families, who have had to battle over many years to get CHC for their relative. The families interviewed gave heart-rending accounts of their personal struggle, over many years, whilst fighting the NHS to get CHC funding for their relative – funding which should have been granted at the outset of the assessment process.
We see families at the point of exhaustion and frustration, turned into emotional wrecks, who have had to endure a lengthy CHC assessment processes, with some being rejected for CHC on multiple occasions, and being forced to appeal to fight for their lawful entitlement to CHC funding.
Quite rightly, Victoria Derbyshire described this battle as a “national scandal” – because that is exactly what it is, as many of our followers and contributors know only too well from their own personal experiences of seeking CHC.
Andrew Farley, of Farley Dwek Solicitors, was also interviewed exclusively for this BBC news programme, and explicitly said that there were thousands of people who had been forced to sell the home to pay for care unnecessarily, and highlighted the problem that people simply aren’t aware of CHC funding. And those who are, have difficulty in navigating the complexities of the system. Andrew said, “It is a national scandal that people are not being signposted to this funding.”
Care To Be Different’s primary objective is to raise the public profile of the availability of NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding and provide free information and resources for people starting out on their journey seeking eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding, or for those who are already stuck in the process and need assistance and guidance every step of the way. Care To Be Different are grateful to our contributors and Facebook users who have provided some wonderful feedback over the years, complimenting our website on its invaluable free information, which we estimate has saved families literally millions of pounds in care fees, and given them the support and encouragement to pursue their claims for NHS Continuing Healthcare.
Some of the families featured in Victoria Derbyshire’s programme are previous enquirers or contributors to our website. Care to be Different were pleased to help Suzanne Morrison and her husband, in their pursuit of NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding for their son John, who suffers from cerebral palsy and has no use of his limbs. Suzanne gave a very moving account of their struggle to get CHC for John, which was initially granted, but then withdrawn in 2009. Following a 10 year dispute, we are delighted to hear that she has been successful in getting CHC reinstated for John’s healthcare needs. A great result, after years of anguish, stress and heartache battling the NHS! His family are now seeking to reclaim £300,000 for wrongly charged fees paid for John’s care needs.
Suzanne Morrison told Victoria Derbyshire’s reporter, Noel Phillips: “This is the dark side of the NHS. This is the hidden side. This is the disabled side, the dementia side, the Alzheimer’s side…..”.
Suzanne Morrison following Care To Be Different on our Facebook page posted the following, “Just to let my fellow survivors who have been through it and have come out with a positive yes they are eligible, and people are going through the process and those about to start the process. What started yesterday and back when Angela Sherman wrote our bible and set up this site, which is now managed by professionals who know their stuff. This is a site where we congregate for information, form friendships, swap our stories and we are starting to become quite a group who can challenge those who should be frankly be doing better….”. Thank you, Suzanne!
The TV programme also featured Admiral Phillip Mathias (retired) and his personal story about his 2 year battle to seek retrospective CHC funding for his dear mother. Mr Mathias said “At a national level, in my view, this is probably the biggest financial scandal in the history of the NHS”. You can read more of Admiral Mathias’s story and his duel with Wiltshire CCG in a recent article we featured on 1st May 2019, ‘Fighting for NHS Funding for my mother was a complex as my work on the nuclear deterrent’.
We, and other professionals like Farley Dwek Solicitors, have previously described CHC funding as the “NHS best kept secret” – hidden funding which is available to many thousands, who either just don’t know about it, or else are being wrongly refused this vital funding.
The BBC and Victoria Derbyshire’s programme have now boldly uncovered the NHS’s ‘secret’ and we hope that Clinical Commissioning Groups throughout the UK will change their attitude, create more consistent methods of assessment for their assessors, and instruct them to recommend funding where it is blatantly obvious that it should be granted. CCGs should not arbitrarily overturn decisions to make cost savings, when their appointed assessors have recommended that CHC funding should be awarded.
It is stated that the NHS have to make £855m worth of efficiency savings in relation to CHC by 2021. The only way of achieving this, is to reduce packages of care and/or to withdraw CHC funding from those who continue to be entitled to it. Indeed, many of the families we hear from, have relatives who have been CHC funded for several years, but are now being reassessed and seeing their funding withdrawn – despite the fact that they continue to deteriorate, or there has been no improvement in their condition, or reduction in the care required. These scenarios will inevitably increase the volume of appeals being pursued. The problem is further compounded by arbitrary caps on care fees which are imposed by various CCGs, thereby requiring families top-up the shortfall between what is funded by the CCG and what is being charged by the care provider. Top-up fees are illegal.
To deny families, such as John Morrison and Vicky Keiller, this basic right to funding as set out in the NHS National Framework, and to downgrade scores deliberately (or ‘rationing’), purely for financial reasons, is frankly appalling. Care To Be Different continues to campaign to help families and bring this matter to the public domain to hold the NHS to task.
Care to be Different are here to support you all the way, and you can access heaps of information on our website for free. Use the search bar on our Home Page to help find topics of particular interest, or call us on 0161 979 0430.
Share your thoughts on your experiences of NHS rationing and Victoria Derbyshire’s programme below.