Suffolk patients second worse off

SUFFOLK is the second worse place in England for patients who need NHS cash for long-term care, figures reveal today.Department of Health figures show just 57 Suffolk residents out of the 592,000 population were getting NHS-funded continuous care at the end of March.

SUFFOLK is the second worse place in England for patients who need NHS cash for long-term care, figures reveal today.

The Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA) said Department of Health figures show 57 Suffolk residents out of the 592,000 population were getting NHS-funded continuous care at the end of March - a ratio of 0.96 per 10,000 people.

The statistics show Suffolk as the second worse place in the country behind Derby.

The RNHA represents nursing homes and said the chances of getting NHS funding in the East of England for continuous nursing are poor across the east of England.

Out of the country's 152 primary care trusts (PCTs), all those in the east are in the bottom half of the league table.

RNHA chief executive officer Frank Ursell said: “It makes no sense at all that people should have such vastly different experiences of a system which is supposed to ensure that individuals whose needs are primarily health-related have the costs of all of their care paid for by the NHS.

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“An older person with multiple health problems in one area may therefore end up having all their nursing home costs met by the NHS, while in another area a person with similar needs could end up having to pay most of the costs out of their own pocket, especially if they do not qualify for financial help from social services.

“It is difficult to see how the differences can be explained on any logical basis. What it shows is that there has been little or no consistency in the way that PCTs have been applying the eligibility criteria for NHS continuing care. The consequences of these decisions for many families run into tens of thousands of pounds.”

London's Harrow PCT has a ratio of 42.75 compared to Suffolk's 0.96. In Great Yarmouth and Waveney, the ratio is 1.98.

If someone is eligible for NHS funding for continuing care needs, all of the care costs are met by their area's PCT, for example, the cost of going into a nursing home.

If they do not meet criteria, only a proportion is paid and patients and social services have to pay the rest.

In October, the Department of Health is due to introduce streamline criteria that PCTs will be required to use in making decisions on NHS continuing care.

N Are you being forced to fork out for continuing care costs for yourself or a relative? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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