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People across Sussex are continuing to suffer from serious inconsistencies in their ability to secure fully funded care, community care law advice solicitor Cate Searle of martin searle solicitors has warned. As one of only two law firms in the region with a Legal Services Commission community care law Specialist Quality Mark, Cate Searle sees many people experiencing problems getting the NHS continuing care funding they need.

“Despite recent changes in the organisation of local Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), it is obvious from my experience that there are still many and significant inconsistencies in how continuing care is funded across the region and that is causing local people real difficulties,” Cate Searle said.

The most recent figures published by Age Concern refer to the old PCT structure and highlight the fact that there is a genuine post code lottery in how NHS continuing care funding is allocated in Sussex. The fact that the PCTs that make up the newly expanded West Sussex PCT varied so much in their record in funding continuing care means residents face an uncertain future under the new boundaries.

In the old set up, residents in the Adur, Arun and Worthing PCT fared the best with a funded care rate per 10,000 of the population more than three times the national average of 6.4. Meanwhile, the old Mid-Sussex PCT region was 7% below the national average. While the old West Sussex PCT region was above the national average, residents were still one and a half times less likely to receive continuing care funding than people in Brighton and Hove.

Cate Searle said: “Anyone whose primary need is for health care rather than social care – even if they are receiving care in their own home rather than in a nursing home setting – should have their care paid for by the NHS. The variations between the old PCTs are startling and local differences in the profile of people who should be getting continuing care do not account for this enormous local variation. It remains to be seen the impact that the reorganisation will have on these figures but residents of the former Adur, Arun and Worthing PCT potentially have a lot to lose if the figures are reduced to the lowest common denominator.

“My experience with clients shows that widely varying guidance from Strategic Health Authorities, delays in assessing individuals and in dealing with reviews and appeals, and variations in how the guidance is applied by the PCTs means that there are huge differences in who qualifies for fully funded care in different areas and in different years. In one case, my client had been battling the local PCT to gain a retrospective award of continuing care funding for her mother for some two years. I was able to secure her a lump sum of nearly £60,000, representing a refund of nursing home charges that she should never have paid if the rules had been properly applied in the first place.”

A National Framework for NHS Fully Funded Care is due to be published later in the year. This aims to resolve some of these inconsistencies but its efficacy remains to be seen.

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For further information contact Belinda Gannaway on 01273 551448 or 07775 584577 or Cate Searle on 01273 609911 or cate@ms-solicitors.co.uk. Visit www.ms-solicitors.co.uk for more information.
…Notes to editors over

Notes to editors:

1. Based in the heart of Brighton, martin searle solicitors is committed to providing affordable community care law advice and social services advice relating to all services in the community care service. This includes needs assessments, waiting lists and eligibility, charges and funding, accommodation, respite care, hospital discharge, care in the home and service reduction.

2. For more information on Age Concern’s campaign to improve access to fully-funded care visit www.ageconcern.org.uk

3. The funded continuing care figures published by Age Concern in February 2007 are taken from an answer placed in the House of Commons Library in response to a parliamentary question from shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley. They are the most up-to-date figures available and refer to January, February and March 2006.

4. The law acknowledges that some people have such extensive or profound nursing care needs (as opposed to social care needs) that they are entitled to have their nursing home fees paid in full by the NHS, rather than having to fund the cost of their nursing care from their own income, savings or through the sale of their home. The criteria for NHS fully funded care are restrictive and tend to be applied restrictively, thus relatively few people satisfy the criteria for receiving free care. The question that the PCT has to address is, are the individual’s health care needs ‘incidental or ancillary to the provision of nursing home accommodation’ – and if not, then the individual should be considered for NHS fully funded care. The decision maker has to look at the nature, complexity and intensity of the health care need, and the quantity and quality of any specialist healthcare interventions.

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Leapfrogg in the following categories: Health, Public Sector, Third Sector & Legal, for more information visit http://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.