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October 2020 CHC statistics | Eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare Q4 - Q1

In the context of a burgeoning pandemic emerging at the beginning of 2020, I have taken the opportunity to review the national statistics for NHS Continuing Healthcare eligibility. To place the numbers in context this snapshot review looks at the period January 2020 – 30th June 2020.

According to NHS England’s Quarter 4 report 2019-20 (relating to the period January 2020 – 31st March 2020), the total number of people assessed for NHS Continuing healthcare was 38,048. The number of people assessed by the standard assessment process was 12,664, with 25,384 assessed via the fast track process.  The data shows that of the 12,664 people assessed by the standard CHC assessment route, 3,069 were found eligible. However, 25,384 were eligible via the fast-track assessment route.

Quarter 1 data which relates to the period April – 30 June 2020, found that the total number of people assessed for NHS continuing healthcare was significantly reduced at 12,605. The outcome being that the number of people found eligible, via the standard CHC route was 295, and 12,310 eligible via the fast-track assessment route, respectively. It is not clear from quarter 1 data if the numbers equate to community setting assessments such as care homes or people’s own homes.

However, what is evident is that the number of people being assessed via the standard assessment and fast-track, markedly dropped during Quarter 1, having previously been on a relatively steady trajectory. To place this change in context, we must consider what was happening nationally during this period.

The data does correlate with the upsurge in the coronavirus pandemic across the UK.  In response to the crisis, on the 25 March 2020 the Coronavirus Act 2020 was fast tracked through Parliament. One of the many aims of the Act, was to ease the pressure on the NHS and Local Authority resources to free up hospital beds.  NHS providers working in combination with local authorities were thrust into focussing on moving people out of acute services and providing care in the right place. Funding   was made available from the NHS under the act to meet the care needs of those being discharged from hospital as well as those requiring care in the community, of which there are thought to be approximately 55,000 people currently funded by the NHS.

As part of the effort to support the NHS, continuing healthcare assessors were deployed to frontline discharge processes. Therefore, continuing healthcare assessments were suspended to a large degree to focus on the throughput of people out of hospital.

From the 1 September 2020 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have been directed by the Government to commence continuing healthcare assessments. It is unclear as to how individual CCGs will prioritise these assessments, therefore we expect there to be a backlog, not only in assessing those funded under the Covid Fund but those requiring reviews, as well as those being  newly referred into the process.

There will be many people who may never meet the continuing healthcare criteria who are being funded by the NHS which will have implications for the future; and there is no framework for this. There could be challenges around those funded this way, and this will be dependent on good record keeping, such as how the discharge from hospital was recorded.

If you have any concerns regarding the funding of a loved one’s care during the pandemic, please contact Judy Timson on 01926 354704 for further information and advice.

Judy Timson

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