Nearly a quarter miss out on NHS care scheme
Nearly a quarter of people in Sunderland with ongoing health needs were denied help from a free NHS care scheme over the summer, new figures show.
Adults requiring care and support outside of a hospital can apply for a free NHS Continuing Healthcare package – which covers a person's care and residential accommodation – but is only available to those deemed as having particularly complex or unpredictable needs following an assessment by health professionals.
NHS England figures show that, of 292 assessments completed in the NHS Sunderland CCG area between July and September, 214 (73%) were deemed eligible.
When a person's health is rapidly deteriorating – and considered to be approaching the end of their life – they may be allowed fast-tracked CHC care.
All 179 fast-track applications were granted in Sunderland over the three-month period, but just 35 of the 113 standard applications were.
Age UK said the CHC system is "grossly unfair" on older people and their families, with patients denied the free support facing enormous care bills which should be paid by the Government.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "This situation is grossly unfair on older people and their families, especially those with no one to speak up on their behalf.
"They can end up paying enormous care bills which should have been the responsibility of the state."
She added: "Legal battles over this can go on for years, way beyond a person's death, leaving a really a bad taste in the mouth for the families left behind."
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said eligibility is assessed on a case-by-case basis.