If you’re struggling to pay healthcare costs for a seriously ill relative, the NHS can offer funding to help. However, if you didn’t know about this funding and need to apply retrospectively, you could soon lose out.
The NHS offers funding to some people who have ongoing healthcare needs – people who are seriously ill and need daily care, for example.
People who are eligible have their full healthcare costs funded by the NHS – whether they live in their own home or in a care home, and whatever their financial situation. At a possible £1,000 a week, it’s a lifechanging sum of money.
Last year, we exposed the huge nationwide variations in whether the NHS pays the full cost for people with the highest, most complex needs. But there’s a further twist in the tale…
Funding can be hard to come by
Back then, David Bury told us how his family was struggling to retrospectively get more than £100,000 for his mum’s care between 2003 and 2006. Five years on, they won the fight. But if they had made the claim after September this year, they may not have been so lucky.
The Department of Health has announced that, from 30 September, it will be closing down claims for care costs incurred between 1 April 2004 and 31 March 2011. This means that people who aren’t told they can claim before this deadline could miss out on thousands of pounds of funding they’re entitled to.
Last year many of you wrote to us about your experiences of trying to access continuing care, and the lack of information was a recurring theme. If they don’t know it exists, people can’t apply for the support they need at the time. In these cases, their only option is to make a ‘retrospective’ application.
Is there enough information?
A month ago the Department of Health sent a memo to primary care trusts (PCTs), telling them to raise awareness of the changes. However, it doesn’t feel like much has changed – have you seen any advertisements explaining these changes in your local area, or on PCT websites?
And – as someone with a friend whose mum gets continuing care funding because of her severe dementia, and had to fight for it as well as cope with a stressful situation – it seems to me that this is a bit like kicking someone when they’re already down.
With PCTs due to be disbanded under NHS reforms, there’s also a worry that more local commissioning could mean the postcode lottery for continuing healthcare will get even worse.
Have you tried to apply for continuing care funding? How do you think the Department of Health could help raise awareness of the changes made to these applications?