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NHS continuing care variations

13th July 2007

"Huge variations" in continuing care offered by the NHS have been sharply criticised by the charity Age Concern.

Old Hands

Figures released by the Department of Health have revealed that people who live in certain areas in England have 160 times more likelihood of receiving continuing care than people living in other areas.

Continuing care refers to care which is the responsibility of the NHS and is provided to people outside of hospital - for example for patients in nursing homes. The variation in levels of care provided has arisen from differing eligibility criteria within the health service at a local level.

Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, said: "These new figures beggar belief. Individuals face a postcode lottery in getting NHS continuing care. There can be no justification for such huge variations in access to care."

The government has said they are launching a care framework in October, which is intended to improve access by standardising eligibility criteria.

Age Concern has estimated the number of people who will receive this type of care would increase by approximately 7,000 and cost £220 million.

They cautioned this would still leave a shortfall of 60,000 people who would not be offered continuing care services.

Care services Minister, Ivan Lewis, said the government was aware of the problem and the new framework would "ensure" people received "the care they need."

Andrew Chidgey, head of policy and campaigns at the Alzheimer's Society called for "a more transparent and equitable system."

 

 

 


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