An article by the journalist Sarah O’Grady published in the Daily Express today suggests that ‘many pensioners are missing out on help with care home fees worth up to £72,000 a year from a "secret" pot of NHS funds’. This is far from an accurate portrayal of health care provision and ignores facts on the ground for the sake of a sensationalist story. South Reading Clinical Commissioning Group, our sister organisation in the Berkshire West federation of CCGs, issued the following statement. The statement includes the full text sent to the Express prior to publication of their story.
The Daily Express article claiming an unfair application of NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding is unnecessarily alarming for patients and their carers. We issued the following response to the Daily Express on first learning of their plans to publish this story.
“Health needs vary across the country, so it is no surprise that there are variations in the total amount of Continuing Healthcare (CHC) expenditure. South Reading is an inner city area serving the University students with different health needs and a younger population profile compared to other parts of the country. There is no meaningful comparison to be drawn between the expenditure in different areas, or indeed the numbers of patients receiving CHC support. We work closely with partner organisations to ensure appropriate provision is in place and people should rest assured that [all Clinical Commissioning Groups in Berkshire West] operate within the National Framework for CHC.”
We are disappointed that neither this quote or the background information we provided to the journalist was used by the Daily Express. NHS healthcare is not means-tested and that there is no such thing as ‘a “secret” pot of NHS funds’. Far from keeping quiet about funding, we run a comprehensive CHC training programme for all health and social care professionals in Berkshire West.
We have always encouraged people involved in the care of a relative to speak with their healthcare professional for proper advice. We would like to draw attention the attention of anyone concerned by today’s report to the Department of Health public information leaflet for NHS Continuing Healthcare. This official information, linked below, further explains the process used to determine whether an individual is eligible for care funded entirely by the NHS: