NHS facing overcharge bill12th February 2008
The health service could face claims and payouts of £180m, after it overcharged patients receiving nursing care.
Those NHS patients who were treated in "continuing care" from 1996 to 2004 have been allowed reviews if they thought they had been charged too much.
These reviews have meant the health service has faced 13,000 claims and 2,000 pay-outs, at a cost of £180m.
Before a legal battle in the 1990s, health authority care charges for continuing NHS treatment had previously been means-tested. A rule change meant health authorities were informed they should allocate funding to care "where the primary need was health, rather than just personal care".
This rule change faced different interpretation by authorities across England. The Health Ombudsman said in 2003 that many people had not been charged correctly and the government then allowed patients to make claims.
12,000 of the 13,300 cases have been subject to a review. All 13,000 claims are anticipated to have been reviewed by March 2008.
Around 40,000 people are the current recipients of continuing care packages. However, expert sources have estimated that approximately 100,000 people should be eligible.
Mervyn Kohler, of Help the Aged, said: "The whole issue of continuing care has been a terrible mess." He said that it was good that people were getting their money back.
"But it doesn't hide the fact that there are still many inconsistencies in practices," he added.
A Department of Health spokesman said the review had "brought about much greater understanding and improved process within the NHS."
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