NHS Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (MECCG) has taken the decision to change local policy regarding NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) services in the area.
The CCG’s Governing Body agreed to a proposal for new patients to receive NHS continuing healthcare at home, with funding allocated up to 10 per cent above what it would cost for the same care in a residential or nursing home setting.
The decision was taken following a public consultation exercise run by an independent organisation, Enable East, which took place between May and July this year.
Despite the fact that this represents a change in the service, the consultation exercise – which mainly involved patients who used the service, has highlighted a desire from members of the public for the CCG to simplify the process in applying for NHS CHC funding, a piece of work that is already under way.
Established nationally in 2007, NHS continuing healthcare refers to a package of care given to adults who need complex care as a result of disability, accident or illness.
It can be provided in any setting including a care home, residential/nursing or the person’s own home.
In 2013/14, MECCG spent £15 million of its £380 million budget on NHS continuing healthcare. This rose to £23 million in 2014/15 and demand continues to increase.
However, these rising costs have to be balanced against the fact that MECCG is one of the eleven most financially challenged health economies in the country, and has to find around £15.7m of savings this year while still ensuring that NHS services in mid Essex remain safe and high quality.
The CCG launched a consultation to gauge views of members of the public on how we can ensure that CHC funding remains available to those who need it while still being sustainable in the years to come.
The consultation exercise involved public drop-in sessions, an online questionnaire, as well as one-to-one sessions with patients currently in receipt of CHC. The CCG received more than 70 responses from a broad spectrum of the community who had strong opinions on the three options that were presented.
Option one – No change to current local policy
Option two – Change local policy. The option for new patients to receive NHS CHC at home, but only up to what the same care would cost in a residential or nursing home setting.
Option three – Change local policy. The option for new patients to receive NHS CHC at home, with funding allocated up to 10 per cent above what it would cost for the same care in a residential or nursing home setting.
MECCG Director of Nursing & Quality, Carol Anderson, said: “This was a targeted consultation exercise so that we could ensure that as many people who have had experience, or are currently accessing NHS CHC provision, had the chance to have their say.
“As well as people’s opinions on CHC funding in the future, the consultation exercise also gave us a unique insight regarding the pressures people face when applying for CHC funding. This has highlighted a need for us to look at the way we, as a CCG, process applications to make them easier and less stressful for those in our communities who need this service.
“We have been very clear from the outset of this piece of work that there was and is no intention to end NHS CHC provision in mid Essex, it is a vital source of healthcare support for those who need it.
“We want to make sure that there is fair and equitable access to CHC funding and will continue to assess everyone on an individual basis.”