Thursday, 21 Sep 2023

Pensioners miss out on crucial healthcare due to spending cuts

But cash-strapped councils and local clinical commissioning groups are making funding assessments tougher with many chronically ill pensioners now paying for care.

The number ­eligible for Con­tinual Healthcare (CHC) has fallen 32 percent from 15,963 in 2018-19 to 10,847 in 2022-23. And the quarterly average for ­the number of completed assessments is below pre-pandemic highs, say retirement experts Just Group using NHS England data.

The 12,163 for 2022-23 is 24% down on the 2018-19 figure of 16,045.

Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, said: “In a civilised society every older person who is ill and has high care costs would receive the help they need, without the need to battle with the authorities at the most difficult time of their life.”

Unlike social care, NHS CHC funding is a legal obligation for those with complex needs and is free.

However as the bar has been raised patients, their families, MPs and health experts have called the system “dysfunctional, complex and unlawful”.

Stephen Lowe, of Just Group, said while those successful “may be an increasingly rare group, it is one of the most generous benefits”.

Lawyer Lisa Morgan said that guidelines are often ­forgotten or applied too restrictively, meaning “more people could be eligible”.

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