Saturday 14 May 2022 10:28 PM Health chiefs deny vulnerable patients vital care which NHS should fund trends now
The frail elderly man with terminal bone cancer, dementia and emphysema – too sick to breathe properly and in constant pain. The 97-year-old Second World War veteran, who risked his life for his country on D-Day, whose health was in rapid decline. And the bed-bound stroke victim, paralysed down one side and covered in agonising bed sores, unable to speak.
All three have one tragic thing in common. They were all denied the vital financial help they needed – and were legitimately entitled to – by a penny-pinching NHS system seemingly more concerned with saving cash than providing the best possible medical care.
That's the bleak picture which has emerged from readers' response to last week's Mail on Sunday exposé of the failings in the NHS system for caring for the sick and elderly, with families forking out, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of pounds out of their own pockets to pay for care which should be provided free on the NHS.
Now campaigners are calling for a crackdown on the rogue NHS officials wrongly refusing this financial aid to sick and elderly people.
Vulnerable people are being denied the vital financial help they need – and are legitimately entitled to – by a penny-pinching NHS system seemingly more concerned with saving cash than providing the best possible medical care. (File image, posed by models)
They have warned that thousands entitled to help from the Continuing Healthcare fund, which covers the costs of long-term social care, are being turned down by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) – the bodies responsible for how NHS cash is spent locally.
But it means families have been left to pick up the hefty bills – including care home costs that can mount to thousands a month.
As we revealed the plight of desperate families forced to hire expensive legal firms to fight their case, the Continuing Healthcare Alliance, which includes Age UK, Dementia UK and Parkinson's UK, has called for a shake-up.
Continuing Healthcare is a £3 billion-a-year fund which pays the care bills for patients who have been assessed as needing help with specific medical problems.
For example, dementia patients who suffer agitation, aggression and other behavioural issues which means they need round-the-clock care, or a patient might be bed-bound and suffering pressure sores that need regular attention from a skilled nurse.
Continuing Healthcare funds are earmarked for such cases, and it is estimated that more than half a million applications are received in England alone every year. But charities want the whole process simplified to make it easier for patients to access the money, as the application process is so bureaucratic that fewer than one in five are approved.
Laura Cockram, from the Continuing Healthcare Alliance, said: 'We have heard so many terrible stories about people not being able to access Continuing Healthcare funding, which can be hugely distressing. This cannot continue.'
In response to the MoS exposè, a torrent of angry families got in touch with their own stories of NHS funds being blocked.
One man, who lost his father to prostate cancer and Parkinson's disease after he was repeatedly denied Continuing Healthcare funding, said: 'Afterwards I discovered he should definitely have qualified for it. It's wrong that people have to spend money on lawyers to fight for what they still might not get.'
Another wrote: 'My father had terminal bone cancer, dementia and emphysema. He couldn't walk, was in pain, confused and had breathing problems.
Yet he was denied Continuing Healthcare funding and we had to pay £1,100 per week for his care in the last months of his life. How ill do you have to be to get this?