austerity

Uncertainty Grows Over the Future of NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding

The pressure targets are placing on NHS Continuing Healthcare.

A recent report has cast doubt over the future of NHS Continuing Healthcare – and whether it will have to be adjusted due to a climate of austerity for the NHS. The report summarised:

“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.”

What this means.

Many people aren’t claiming NHS Continuing Healthcare funding when they may be eligible, simply because there isn’t information about it. People just don’t know about support for healthcare fees. The report also found, for example, that only 3% of people were made aware about the funding from their GP. A GP is often the first ‘port of call’ and would be informing people about their healthcare options. This means that many people are missing out on the funding – yet, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are still being told to make cuts, despite the fact that less is already being paid out than perhaps should be.

With that trajectory in mind, it seems almost inevitable that the criteria for who qualifies for funding may be changed or that the nature of the funding may change. For instance, it may change from being fully funded healthcare to partially funded.

Why NHS Continuing Healthcare should be protected.

The report warns that changes in the amount of funding, or changes to the criteria, could have an adverse impact on patients. Healthcare funding in the UK is not means-tested; it is ‘free at the point of use’ and it is universal. With an ageing population, the number of people requiring financial support for their healthcare in later life is only going to grow rapidly.

The ageing process can be daunting; not knowing about the path your health may take or what your future care needs may cost. People shouldn’t have to go through that uncertainty when the NHS was established to look after people from the ‘cradle to the grave’. Cuts to funding may alter the entire concept of the NHS – to take care of us until the grave. With an ageing population, having a health service that provides for us throughout all of the stages throughout our life has arguably never been so important.

Take some of the uncertainty out of your situation by seeking our help to guide you through the process.

If you think you might qualify for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding, contact Just Caring Legal today.

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Will £2 Million Over The Next Three Years Be Enough To Solve The Social Care Crisis?

The budget revealed.

Today’s budget promised £2 billion in new money for social care over the next three years. Chancellor Phillip Hammond said this would help bridge the gap until the Better Care Fund kicks in. Yet, will it be enough to solve the social care crisis?

It is clear from Hammond’s comments that this measure is primarily about removing pressure on the NHS. Much of this is caused by delayed discharges from hospital. It follows an increasing clamour for extra cash from Conservative backbenchers, such as Dr Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative head of the Commons Health Committee. She warned that NHS reforms would“fail” and patient safety would be put at risk without an emergency rescue package. In an interview with The Independent, she urged Chancellor Hammond to change course – or watch the “suffering” public turn against the Government.

Not that anyone could say today’s announcement was about changing course. Hammond said just 24 local authorities were responsible for half of all delayed discharges in England. So the Government would take measures to ensure “more joined-up working” – presumably between local authorities and local NHS commissioners. There was no detail on what this would mean in practice.

Hammond also said the long-term challenges required a strategic approach. No kidding. He promised a green paper later this year on funding social care. But he said “Labour’s hated death tax” – a proposed 10% levy on estates to fund social care – would not be among the options.

What it all means for social care.

For a decade, we have heard calls for plans to transform the social care system so we can sustainably meet the needs of a growing elderly population. Here at Just Caring Legal, every day we see the effects of the failure to heed those calls. Elderly and vulnerable people are unable to access the care they are entitled to because of problems over funding. We see local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups finding ever more inventive ways to limit their scarce resources. We see many care packages that go against both the spirit and the letter of the regulatory systems that are supposed to ensure the proper use of funds.

The time for talk, for proposals, for green papers, is long gone. Social care needs investment. This £2 billion is welcome, but it is not enough. We need action. In the meantime, individuals and their families will have to continue fighting for their rights.

Just Caring Legal, a solicitor’s firm specialising in the recovery of care fees, can help. Your Just Caring Legal solicitor will deliver strong evidence-based arguments to challenge illegal decisions on care funding. Call us today for your free initial assessment.

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Extra Cash for Social Care Is No More Than a Sticking Plaster

“Like putting a plaster on a patient that needs a triple bypass”. This is how Liverpool City Mayor Joe Anderson described the extra cash for social care announced by the Government yesterday.  Communities minister Sajid Javid announced that up to £900m extra cash for social care would be available over the next two years. But far from soothing the worried brows of councils, care providers, residents and their families, the announcement just seems to have made everybody even angrier. Here’s why.

It’s not new money

The trouble is the Government hasn’t actually, strictly speaking, offered any extra cash for social care. Local authorities will have the ability to increase council tax to spend on social care by up to 6% over two years rather than three.  They will also be able to spend money from the New Homes Bonus, which rewards councils for building houses, on social care.This is not “new money” either, but a redistribution of funding already promised to councils. Councils will potentially be able to raise an extra £208m in total for social care next year.With real social care cuts of £4.6 billion in the last parliament, this robbing Peter to pay Paul is not a long-term solution.

It’s a drop in the ocean

To put it in context, for those councils that benefit the most, the extra council tax will generate 2.1% of their adult social care budget. For those that benefit least, it will generate just 0.6%. As the Local Government Association told the House of Commons enquiry on adult social care recently, “If we were to even meet the fair funding criteria for care today, we would need to add another £1.3 billion into the social care system. The foundations are therefore not solid and the future looks grim unless we get an injection of further resources.”

It will create yet another postcode lottery

Simply raising the council tax precept means extra money for care will vary across the country, depending on councils’ tax bases.  For example, the amount of extra money raised per head of the adult population will vary from £5 in Newham and Manchester, to £15 in Richmond-on-Thames. The poorer areas where the need is greatest will get the least.

It won’t end the “secret subsidy” of top-up fees

The huge hole in social care funding means many families have no choice but to “top up” inadequate local authority payments with their own cash. The charity Independent Age says around a quarter of care home places now involve a top-up fee. As the amounts councils are willing to pay for care have decreased, these top-ups have become a “secret subsidy” propping up the care system; secret, because families are not being made aware of their legal rights on top ups and the fact that they should only ever be a free choice.

It won’t make care services more viable

Hundreds of providers say they are on the brink of financial ruin. Research recently showed 40 per cent of care services will not be viable in the medium term without an injection of extra cash into the social care system. And so the crisis continues.

Adequate funding of social care is vital to ensure high quality care for all and to relieve the mounting pressure threatening to engulf the NHS. Most people at the coal face know the situation is now so desperate that only a serious national effort will overcome it. This is why the Government must agree to calls for cross-party talks in order to find the long-term cure this country so badly needs.

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