A DAMNING report by a health watchdog concludes standards of healthcare assessments of vulnerable people in Sandwell are “unacceptable”.
A catalogue of complaints from frail elderly people and carers of adults with learning disabilities highlights shortcomings in the eligibility process to pay for continuing healthcare (CHC) at home or in a care home or hospice.
Healthwatch Sandwell found service users did not feel part of the process, felt they were not being believed and were left confused and anxious which caused emotional distress.
The health and social care assessors were criticised for having poor assessment and communication skills, disagreeing between themselves and trying to “pass the buck”.
Timescales were over long and poorly defined and the process was “intimidating”.
The report added: “Service users and carers were overwhelmed with the process and felt they had to fight the system.”
Healthwatch is now pressing for a review of current practices by an independent panel.
Its report recommends a ‘blank sheet’ approach be taken to redesigning the process “to avoid simply applying sticking plasters to the irreparable”.
It also calls for recognition of the personal and human cost in the assessment, advice and advocacy for service users and carers and enforcement of their righ
Although the research highlights experiences of just seven respondents, Healthwatch believes the findings are “unacceptable at any level” and are consistent with bigger studies A spokesman for the Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said the report would be reviewed alongside internal evidence and patient feedback to identify any improvements.
H added: “We are sorry to hear of any patients that have a poor experience and would encourage the seven patients who have raised issues to speak to our Time2Talk team, to see if we can support them.
“We recognise that continuing healthcare is a complex area, and our assessors are trained annually on the latest guidance. Continuing healthcare guidance is set nationally and is based on the legal requirements for the NHS.
“We have no limit on our CHC funding and will support any patient that meets the national requirements. We are currently assessing around 235-250 patients a month.
“We have worked hard to improve our CHC processes and invested in improvements to our service over the past year and aim to work closely with the local council wherever possible. “We are also reviewing our information to ensure patients are supported.”Back to News View original article