ANGRY families have slammed the NHS for leaving them ‘high and dry’ as they step up their battle to recover millions of pounds owed to them after elderly relatives were wrongly denied funding to pay for their care home fees and had to sell of their home.
More than one million people have been forced to sell their homes to pay care home fees over the past five years. Tens of thousands more are unable to pass their homes on to their children as local authorities take charges out against properties that have to be paid when parents die.
The average cost of a UK nursing home is £738 per week – that’s almost £40,000 a year.
Many families struggle needlessly to come up with the cash in a situation where they may be eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding which is not means tested and based on assessments of healthcare needs, such as mobility and severity of conditions.
Just 58,000 people currently receive the ‘secret’ funding but it is believed more than 150,000 are actually entitled to it.
Daily Mirror reader Christopher Andrews was wrongly told there was no other choice than to self-fund when he was forced to place his parents in a care
“My parents have been in and out of care homes for the past four years. They both suffered from dementia and when they could no longer manage living on their own, a care home was the only option. When dad died last year, we had paid out more than £150,000 in fees to various care homes.
“We had to sell my parents’ house to pay the fees. It didn’t seem right that they had to fund everything themselves after working hard and paying taxes all their lives. After digging around online, I came across something called NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding and thought we might be entitled to it.
“In order to have our case reviewed and see if we can claim money back, we have to have a review by Medway CCG (Previously West Kent PCT). Farley Dwek, our solicitors actually registered our claim back on 20th August 2012 but we’ve had no timescales as to when this review may take place. The CCG is not obliged to work to any deadline which means we have no idea how long we could be waiting.”
“It’s hard to believe that people are being punished for working hard all their lives, paying taxes and buying their own homes. Mum was a policewoman and dad was a docker. It’s shocking that we were never told about the funding available to people in their situation.”
Andrew Farley of specialist care funding solicitors Farley Dwek, which helps families secure NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding for relatives, said it’s unacceptable that families should have to wait years to get their money back:
“The problem is that the current funding system is unfair and very slow to repay the money to families who are entitled to it. Mr Andrews’ case is unfortunately the tip of the iceberg and we’re acting for hundreds of families who are awaiting decisions or money from the NHS.
“It hits those who have worked their whole lives, spent their money wisely and put a bit aside for a rainy day. Families are often given short notice by their local NHS to attend a complex funding assessment meeting and in many cases I see they are improperly assessed or even worse not even made aware that funding is available at all.
“Crucial decisions are made that could spell the difference between paying nothing and paying £700 a week. If a family member has an NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding assessment looming I’d strongly suggest getting legal advice to make sure the process is carried through properly.
“Local NHS Trusts have made too many mistakes regarding funding and it is important you get the funding you are entitled to and ensure that your relative is assessed on a regular basis.
“This funding is also available for people receiving care at home and not just those in a care home. It isn’t applicable to everyone but should be considered by those whose needs are greatest.
“The system needs simplifying so that decisions within the NHS can be made more quickly and more correctly and hard working families like the Andrews family can get closure on the issue and move on with their lives.”
To download a free guide or learn more about NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding see www.farleydwek.com or call 0800 011