Streamlining The System For NHS Continuing Care, UK

Thousands of people in England are likely to receive more help towards their care costs, said Care Services Minister, Ivan Lewis, a few days ago.

The new National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare, published recently, has been developed in close consultation with voluntary groups, professional bodies and patient/user groups and will make funding decisions on who is eligible for NHS continuing care fairer, faster and easier to understand.

It will create consistent access to fully funded care with clear national policies for deciding eligibility. It also abolishes different nursing bands for free nursing care – freeing up more time for nurses and cutting down on repeated patient assessments. The Framework will be put into action by the NHS and Local Authorities from October this year, and is expected to cost up to £220 million in the first year of operation.

Care Services Minister, Ivan Lewis, said:

“We understand that families do have to make difficult and emotional decisions when someone has to go into residential care and this can be made worse by having to consider how this will be funded.”

At present, people with identical care needs can receive different decisions on whether they are eligible for fully funded continuing care, based purely on where they live.

The new system will address these anomalies and will introduce one national system for everyone needing this type of care in England.

Ivan Lewis continued:

“To make the system fairer for everyone, we have produced new national guidance. It will not solve all the problems at once but over time we expect there to be a real improvement that will lead to fair and consistent access to NHS funding across England, irrespective of location, diagnosis or personal circumstances.

“This will make the system faster and more convenient for both patients and professionals. In particular, it will be of help to those who previously been excluded, such as younger adults with long term neurological conditions and older people with dementia or other mental health needs.”

Currently, nearly 31,000 people receive NHS continuing care, and around 70 % of care home residents already have some or all of their personal care costs paid by the public purse.

The NHS already provides all registered nursing care free for approximately 123,000 people.

  1. NHS continuing care is a fully-funded package of health and social care. If individuals are not eligible for continuing care, they may be eligible for NHS registered nursing care provided in a nursing home. Currently, this funding is a tiered system based on the level of input required, but the Framework proposes to streamline this so that the NHS provides the same contribution to everyone receiving this type of care.
  2. When individuals do not receive NHS funding, social care provision is subject to means-testing by the Local Authority. In addition, individuals who own their own home are usually able to enter into a deferred payment agreement with the Local authority to delay the sale of their home
  3. The current nursing band rates are, are £40, £87 and £139. The new single rate is projected to be £101.

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