THOUSANDS of vulnerable and elderly people who should have their care costs covered by the NHS are completely unaware funding is available.
A national poll commissioned by Farley Dwek Solicitors found that 87 per cent of people did not know about NHS continuing healthcare – funding that exists to cover the care costs of those with complex medical needs.
The poll measured awareness of continuing healthcare funding among 45-60 year olds across Britain – the demographic most likely to be taking care funding decisions for their parents.
Close to a third of respondents (29 per cent) said someone close to them suffering from complex health needs had to personally finance their care.
For those who had to personally finance care, 71 per cent exhausted their savings while 65 per cent had to forego their pension income. 14 per cent had to sell their house to cover care costs.
Over a third (35 per cent) of those forced to finance their care spent more than £10,000 doing so. Close to 10 per cent spent more than £50,000 on care that could have been provided for free by the NHS.
35 per cent of people with complex care needs currently financing care are paying more than £500 a week, according to the survey.
The findings raise serious questions about why so little is known about the crucial funding, which could save vulnerable people across the UK hundreds of thousands of pounds.
In light of the findings, Farley Dwek Solicitors is launching a national ‘Two Ticks’ campaign to raise awareness about the availability of funding. It aims to help people better understand if their loved ones are eligible.
Andrew Farley, a specialist in continuing healthcare funding at Farley Dwek Solicitors, said:
“These findings are shocking but sadly they reflect the conversations we have on a daily basis. They have laid bare the extent to which people simply don’t know about NHS continuing healthcare – a critical source of funding that is supposed to support the care of society’s most vulnerable people. These are people who find themselves stricken with serious and complex medical conditions through no fault of their own – and they are entitled to this funding.
“It’s a travesty that because so few people know about the funding, there are many, many people who will have unnecessarily spent the entirety of their savings, or even had to sell their house, to cover costs they are wrongly being asked to pay for. It’s a national disgrace.
“To make sure people can access the funding they are entitled to, there needs to be a concerted nationwide effort to raise awareness around continuing healthcare. Certainly, the NHS could be doing more to promote the availability of the funding. It’s a shameful dereliction of the NHS’ founding principles that its modus operandi appears to have been to keep knowledge of the funding as limited as possible.”
“People need to be aware that it’s available and they also need to understand whether their loved ones qualify for the funding. To that end, we’ve created a publicly available ‘Two Ticks’ tool to quickly help people understand whether or not their loved ones could be eligible.
“We’re hoping it will help bring much greater clarity to people’s understanding of the funding and that those who should be receiving the funding can make sure they are taking the steps they need to secure it.”
The survey also raised questions about the quality of primary care assessments – the means by which NHS practitioners decide whether continuing healthcare funding should be granted.
More than a quarter of people (26 per cent) who knew someone closely who had applied for funding said that person was dissatisfied with the way the assessment was carried out.
Similarly, 28 per cent said the person they were close to was dissatisfied with the outcome of the assessment. Only 54 per cent said they were satisfied.
Jim Butler, 61 from Rushden, is awaiting more than £100,000 in compensation for his mother Maria after a two-year battle saw her wrongly denied funding three times before it was finally granted at a tribunal hearing.
He said: “What we had to go through to secure support for my mum was disgusting. The first time we had an assessment, the NHS’s multidisciplinary team refused to grant funding even though my mum’s healthcare needs were found to be severe in two of its assessment criteria.
“We went for two more assessments. In the second assessment they tried to say my mum only qualified for a small fixed contribution. We knew that wasn’t right and our lawyers at Farley Dwek agreed so we went for a third.
“That final assessment was harrowing. My mum became very distressed, screaming and beating the walls and doors of the room in which the assessment was taking place. It was clear to anyone that she was really unwell and needed help. They still refused to support her with care funding.
“At that stage we went to a tribunal – it was the only option left for us. They were told not only that funding would be granted, but that funding should have been granted from the very first assessment. It was sickening.
“I honestly believe that the multidisciplinary teams that conduct the assessments are there to fob you off – there is no way my mum should have been denied help.”
These latest findings add to growing concerns that people across the country face a number of obstacles when it comes to accessing the funding they are entitled too.
Andrew Farley at Farley Dwek Solicitors added: “Even for people who are aware that continuing healthcare funding exists, there is a great deal of confusion about when it should be granted. I have worked on many cases with people who feel that the lack of clarity around this issue has been exploited and used to make it as difficult as possible for those most in need to access funding.
“Funding should be granted when a person’s healthcare needs are deemed greater than their care needs. If someone is unwell to the extent that they require round-the-clock, one-to-one care then it is highly likely that funding should be granted. Anyone with a loved one in that situation should certainly consider applying for the funding.”
The full documents can be downloaded here:
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