The NHS continuing healthcare system in England is fundamentally flawed and failing the most vulnerable in society, according to a new report released today by Parkinson’s UK in association with the Continuing Healthcare Alliance, a group of 13 charities including Age UK and the Alzheimer’s Society.
NHS continuing healthcare is free healthcare provided outside hospital and often in care homes by the NHS. Its aim is to enable people to go on living as full and independent a life as possible. Everyone who applies is likely to have significant health and social care needs.
However the new report reveals that the system is complicated, confusing and intimidating for those who desperately rely on it.
The research comes from Freedom of Information requests sent to every Clinical Commissioning Group in England, a survey of professionals and people who have been through the assessment process for continuing healthcare.
The Continuing Healthcare Alliance is calling for NHS England and the Department of Health to urgently address the numerous shortcomings of the system to ensure that people in the greatest need are not abandoned.
Morgan Vine, policy and campaigns adviser at Parkinson’s UK and chair of the Continuing Healthcare Alliance, said: “With significant cuts to social care and access to welfare benefits being restricted, some of the most vulnerable people in our society are seeing too many avenues of support being stripped away. This makes the failures of the NHS continuing healthcare system even more harrowing.
“What we hear time and again is that seriously ill people are being put through a complex and bewildering assessment process, often only to be told they don’t qualify for support. This leaves them and their carers confused, angry and isolated.
“Rapid and robust changes must be made to improve the current system. The Continuing Healthcare Alliance is calling on NHS England and the Department of Health to work with us to ensure that no-one is left without the care they so desperately need.”