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News for caregivers May 2019

news for carers

The NHS continues its move into digital consultations to avoid unnecessary hospital and GP visits. NHS Continuing Care funding in England is being quietly withdrawn from thousands of patients. With the UK Government still too distracted to address failing social care, more policy groups have created their strategies to solve the crisis. Stroke deaths are falling as prevention and improved treatment make a difference. Some 17 banks have signed up to the new voluntary code on refunding victims of scams, with more to follow. 

Online NHS consultations trials spread

We looked a few weeks ago at online GP consultations. Now a Manchester-based trial is reporting that a team of nurses offering online consultations to the elderly has prevented 1000 avoidable visits to A&E and saved 2000 GP appointments in the last year. The service is being used by 44 care homes, plus sheltered accommodation, and 3500 patients in their own homes. However, as a doctor points out, not all older people can access the technology, so they can continue to use traditional methods to access healthcare.

Meanwhile patients across all age groups in Birmingham are to be encouraged to use online chat services, symptom checkers and video consultations to avoid visits to A&E.

Thousands lose their NHS Continuing Care Funding

day surgery in Northern IrelandMore than 7000 people whose care and nursing fees had been covered by the NHS have had their funding cut, according to an investigation by the Daily Telegraph (register to read full article). This is despite a legal requirement for fees to be paid in full if a significant health problem is the reason they need the help. The findings come from just 71 of England’s 119 Clinical Commissioning Groups, meaning the figures overall could be much higher. NHS documents are reported to say that key to making savings is a reduction in the number of people eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare and the average cost of the care package.

  • Our expert Roger Burgess comments: “Your readers should be aware that an NHS Continuing Healthcare status can only be removed if an individual’s care needs have either been permanently reduced or removed. The National framework for Continuing Healthcare and NHS funded Nursing Care, page 21, Para 63 states as follows: “Only where the successful management of a healthcare need has permanently reduced or removed an ongoing need, such that the active management of this need is reduced or no longer required, will this have a bearing on NHS Continuing Healthcare eligibility”. I appreciate how difficult it has become to protect individuals’ legal rights to NHS CHC funding, even when they do have ‘Primary Health’ requirements. It can be very frustrating in this current climate. However, once someone with dementia, for example, becomes eligible for NHS CHC, the chances of them recovering to the extent that they can manage with a reduced care package, or, no longer require their care package, are extremely remote – probably non-existent.”

Regional differences for social care spending

More is spent on social care in Scotland per person than in Wales or England, says the Health Foundation. In Scotland £445 is spent per person on services such as care homes and home help for daily tasks such as washing and dressing. In Wales that figure is £414, and in England just £310. The analysis shows that once inflation is taken into account, spending in England has actually fallen by 10% per head between 2010/11 and 2016/7. Spending has also fallen in Scotland and Wales, but the percentages are lower. Part of the regional difference is thought to be the varying levels at which people are asked to contribute to their care.

What now for social care?

With the continued absence of the promised Green Paper from the UK Government on health and social care, other think tanks have been coming up with proposals to make eldercare work better. A new report argues that free social care to the over-65s could save the NHS £4.5bn every year. The Institute for Public Policy Research says the savings could be achieved by giving the elderly more help in the community rather than hospital. Currently patients with dementia have to pay for their own care, while patients with cancer get free care for as long as they need it.

The Policy Exchange Group has also published own recommendations, with a foreword by Jacob Rees-Mogg, that includes among other things a care cap of just £5000.

AgeUK is promoting its campaign to make the Government face up to the care crisis by publishing a report showing how care is under-provisioned in different areas in England. The charity says that some areas of the country are “care deserts”. You can sign up to the campaign and find out more about the report on the AgeUK website.

Stroke deaths among older people fall

Stroke deaths in England have fallen amongst older people in the last decade, says new research. Much of the focus of stroke prevention through monitoring and medication has been on the over 80s. Where strokes have occurred, greater awareness and better treatments have reduced death rates.

Voluntary banking code to refund scam victims now in operation

Some 17 banks have so far signed up to the new voluntary scam reimbursement code. They are Barclays, HSBC, First Direct, M&S Bank, Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, Halifax, Metro Bank, Nationwide, Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest, Ulster Bank, Starling Bank, Santander, Cahoot, and Cater Allen. TSB has its own fraud guarantee. Clydesdale Bank, Co-op Bank, Monzo, Post Office Bank, Tesco Bank, Virgin Money, and Yorkshire Bank have said they are planning to join later in the year. The code was due to come into effect on 28 May 2019.

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