Coronavirus Causes Backlog that could Leave Thousands without Care Funding

Hannah Morris
Care Home Fees Associate Lawyer

Health care professionals are struggling with the backlog of applications for care support for the elderly and vulnerable because of Covid-19.

Assessments to see whether people could have their care paid for by the NHS were suspended by health chiefs at the end of March for nearly 6 months.  During this time, all individuals discharged from hospital were funded by the NHS with emergency Covid-19 funding.  Now all of their needs need to be properly assessed.   

This means that not only have around 25,000 been people left unsure about whether they will continue to get support towards their care fees, but it also means that health experts are now having to rush through these applications.

Because of the pressure of getting through applications, thousands of families could be wrongly told that they won’t be given NHS funding to help with their loved ones’ care fees.

This is devastating news for many. Care fees could be up to £100,000 a year, so we understand how detrimental a wrong decision could be to your family.

The coronavirus pandemic has meant that this has already been a difficult year in many ways for the elderly and vulnerable. If you’ve been told that your loved one won’t receive any funding for their care needs then we might be able to help you.

We can provide independent legal advice on whether the decision not to award NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding (CHC) was wrong, and help you appeal this decision with the Clinical Commissioning Group. For a discussion with no obligation, get in touch with our Care Home Fees Solicitors and we can help you.

Call us on 0808 239 6218 or request a callback

What is NHS Continuing Healthcare?

NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding is a package of care funded by the NHS to people who have a Primary Health Need, which are set out in the National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare and NHS-Funded Nursing Care.

A Primary Health Need is where the main aspect or majority of a person’s care is focused on addressing or preventing their Healthcare needs. The need must also be over and above what a Local Authority can be expected to provide. But this isn’t a clear cut issue, as assessments can be subjective and funding is difficult to get.

To decide whether you will receive CHC funding, an assessment will need to be carried out.

But because of the backlog of applications for CHC funding and the second UK lockdown putting restrictions on visits, a lot of assessments are being done over the phone. This means that assessors aren’t meeting or even sometimes speaking to families before deciding if someone is going to receive CHC funding.

Issues with NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding

Lack of Government Funding

For years now, health officials have attempted to cut NHS funding, and this means that CHC funding has been affected too.

Our Care Home Fees Solicitors have seen that the NHS is still struggling to clear the backlog of retrospective CHC funding applications from as far back as 2012. Sadly, this means that health care professionals are going to have a difficult time in dealing with this new backlog caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Overall there has been a huge decrease in the number of people receiving CHC funding. 5 years ago, 68.8 per 50,000 people were receiving CHC funding. But now it’s reduced massively to only 48.8 in every 50,000 people.

Coronavirus Detrimental to Care Funding

Statistics show that coronavirus has had a big part to play in people continuing to not receive CHC funding where they may need it. There was a reduction of 13% of people who have been receiving CHC funding from the end of June compared to March.

In the first lockdown, patients discharged from hospital had their care paid for by emergency Covid-19 funding. But as the UK have been put into a second lockdown, the Government have withdrawn this emergency funding, which means the NHS have to take on the brunt of the costs.

If your elderly or vulnerable family member is discharged from hospital now, they will only get funding for 6 weeks while their needs are being assessed.

If the assessment hasn’t been able to go ahead within 6 weeks, the NHS funding will continue until your loved one’s needs have been assessed. This means the NHS have an incentive to push these assessments through quickly, rather than taking their time to properly consider each individual case.

If your loved one is not eligible for CHC funding then whether they can pay for their own care will be means tested.  They will only get funding if they have less than £23,250 in savings.

Not Enough People Know About It

In 2018, we ran a survey that asked people if they knew they could get support towards care fees with NHS Continuing Healthcare and 75% of people said they hadn’t heard of it before reading it in our survey.

And 84% of 34-44 year olds had never heard of CHC funding, which is shocking as this is a key age range who will be stepping up to help their elderly family members with their care.

The Criteria for CHC is Open to Interpretation

As more people have started applying for CHC funding in the last couple of years, the NHS have needed more assessors. But the criteria of ‘complex, intense, or unpredictable’ needs means that depending on who is assessing your relative, could mean a different outcome. CHC has long been described as a ‘postcode lottery’. 

Guidelines on assessments need to be tighter, so that something as serious as deciding if your loved one is entitled to funding isn’t dependent on who your assessor may be.

How We Can Help You

We know how difficult it is to have a family member or loved one who is in a vulnerable position. It can be an emotional and stressful time, so it’s important that you get all the support you can.

We can help you with applications and an appeal for NHS Continuing Healthcare, as appealing is a complicated process to undertake alone.

Our team of Care Home Fees Solicitors have helped many families with ongoing and retrospective funding, which means we may be able to help you even if you’ve been paying for your loved ones care so far.

For a discussion with no obligation call our Care Home Solicitors

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