Hidden government agenda
Unsurprisingly, the new Continuing Healthcare deadlines coincide with the new and controversial Health and Social Care Act 2012, otherwise known as the NHS reforms in England.
In April 2013 new Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) take over from Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), and a new National Commissioning Board replaces Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs). PCTs and SHAs currently handle the retrospective reclaim process.
It would not be unreasonable therefore to conclude that the new deadlines are motivated by the desire to clear the decks and make things easier for the new CCGs – and to stop more claims coming in. It means they can start their work without having to bother with providing ongoing proper redress for elderly people.
In other words, the Continuing Care deadlines would seem purely for the benefit of the State and nothing to do with setting things straight for the people the State has effectively falsely relieved of their assets. Can an overcharging retailer wipe the slate clean just because it chooses to no longer allocate the resources to handle the refund – for the sole purpose of saving money?
Obstructing proper Continuing Healthcare funding wastes public money
If the NHS really wants to conserve money, it would be wise to add up and address the millions of pounds of public money it wastes in the maladministration of Continuing Healthcare assessments, not least when NHS assessors seemingly ignore the law and the eligibility criteria and when PCT Decision Making Panels make illegal decisions.
Taxpayers’ money is spent on assessments and related paperwork that have to be repeated (by staff whose wages we pay through tax) because the initial assessments were seriously flawed – or carried out by staff who have not been properly trained. Plus, the NHS spends time and money defending appeals brought by understandably angry families, and legal fees are paid out of tax payers’ money for solicitors’ letters that many feel are designed to put families off.
The public purse is financing all this. The NHS seems to see no harm in spending millions obstructing funding and forcing people to seek legal redress – which then costs the NHS even more, never mind the catastrophic impact it has on families.
The backlog of Continuing Healthcare claims has not been caused by elderly people in care. It has been caused by all the above. The NHS door has been closed to many elderly people for years – the very people who have supported it through taxation for the longest. And now the State is, in many cases, making sure that door is well and truly bolted.
Lack of training leaves assessors vulnerable
I should add that most of the nurses and other health and social care workers who actually undertake Continuing Healthcare assessments and reviews seem to have little, if any, knowledge of the law in this matter and perhaps would not consciously defraud people. Many are simply told to go and do the assessment, but without adequate knowledge or training.
As a result, assessments are often carried out very badly. The assessors involved in this maladministration are also almost certainly unaware that they are personally in breach of the law. And if they are aware of the maladministration, they may mistakenly assume their employer will take the blame.
Individual directors, managers and staff can be sued, as individuals, and face the full force of sentencing. Of course, this rarely happens, not because there has been no breach leading to theft of assets, but because it is so hard for a member of the public to bring a case against the NHS and the State.