If you’re challenging or chasing up a Continuing Healthcare assessment, and there’s a lack of response from the NHS, these 13 tips will help.
In July 2013 we published an article called Why is the NHS delaying my Continuing Care assessment?, and we looked at the timescales that should be adhered to by the NHS at each stage of the Continuing Healthcare assessment process.
The article also suggested that, although the NHS is stretched in resource, many of these assessment delays are likely to be for financial motives – to stop people accessing NHS care and care funding.
We’re returning to the subject of delays in today’s article – this time focusing on what to do when the NHS fails to respond to your correspondence about Continuing Healthcare funding.
We hear from many families who have written and/or called the NHS asking about a relative’s assessment – only to be met with a continual and resounding silence. It’s frustrating, to say the least.
If employees within a private company acted like this and failed to respond to their customers, they would most likely be reprimanded or sacked, and the company would be at risk of going out of business. Sadly, the culture in the NHS when it comes to care funding – and the attitude of many NHS employees within that process – often seems to be one of indifference towards the very people it exists to serve.
So what can you do if you’re struggling to get any response to your correspondence about your relative’s Continuing Care assessment? Here are a few suggestions:
(It’s worth remembering here that there are individuals within the Continuing Healthcare system who are helpful, and who are working in a difficult environment. If you do have a good relationship with such a person, be careful not to damage it.)
- Write to the NHS Continuing Healthcare Dept. – and if you fail to get a response, write again and again – every day if you have to.
- Phone the NHS Continuing Healthcare Dept. and say you will keep calling until you receive a proper response. That response could simply be to update you about when they will be able to respond properly, but it’s better than nothing.
- Copy your letters to the Chief Executive of the relevant local NHS.
- Also, write a separate letter directly to the same Chief Executive highlighting the situation and stating your dissatisfaction – and copy your letter to the Continuing Healthcare Dept.
- If there’s a Chief Operating Officer, do the same.
- Copy your letters to the Head of Adult Services at the local authority.
- If you have a good social worker contact, see if they can be instrumental in getting the NHS to respond to you. They work in partnership.
- If the person you’re trying to get an answer from within the NHS consistently refuses to respond, find out who their manager is and write to them as well.
- Write to the relevant regional NHS National Commissioning Board; contact NHS England for the number (although experience indicates that the switchboard at NHS England seems poorly informed about contact details for other areas of the NHS!).
- Write to the local MP and let the Continuing Healthcare Dept. know you’ve done this.
- Contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
- Contact the press.
- And if you still don’t get a response from the NHS, you may want to send a letter from a solicitor to the Continuing Healthcare Dept. highlighting that the NHS Continuing Healthcare team is potentially acting illegally by trying to force your relative to use personal assets to pay for nursing care when the NHS has not carried out its duty to assess – and before it has even been established who is responsible for paying for care.
Are you finding it difficult to get a response to your correspondence with the NHS?