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APPG Meeting briefs MPs on NHS Continuing Healthcare

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Spinal Cord Injury held a meeting in April to deliver a vital briefing to MPs about the current issues with NHS Continuing Healthcare.  SIA’s Campaigns Manager, Dave Bracher, presented to the group and explains more.

APPGs are cross-party groups run by, and for, Members of the House of Commons and House of Lords.  They’re an important mechanism to support the work carried out in Westminster and can help to facilitate MPs and Peers working with organisations from outside Parliament.

The APPG for Spinal Cord Injury was formed in 2008 with Ian Lucas MP (Wrexham) as Chair.  Its purpose is to look at the issues faced by SCI people, for example medical treatment, care and support, as well as the wider issues that affect the lives of SCI people.  Essentially, the APPG helps keep the needs of SCI people as high as possible on the Parliamentary agenda.

NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) is a campaigning priority for SIA.  We’ve been hearing very worrying accounts of NHS CHC funding cuts, reducing care provision to unacceptable levels.  There are instances of overnight care being removed and people being threatened with an enforced move from their home into residential care.  SIA has been fighting to protect the rights of our members; we want to see a NHS CHC process that provides the independence, care and support required to help SCI people lead fulfilled lives.

NHS CHC developments in the last year include:

  • The National Audit Office published their Investigation into NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding in July 2017, which highlighted the worrying plans by NHS England to save £855 million from the NHS CHC budget by 2020-21. These cuts are against the backdrop of an ageing population and the likelihood of increased demand for NHS CHC in future years.
  • The National Audit Office report was then picked up by the influential Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The PAC is a powerful group of cross-party MPs who are responsible for scrutinising the value for money of public spending, which they do through investigating and then reporting back to the Government.  SIA’s CHC Advisor, Brian O’Shea, provided compelling evidence to the PAC, which clearly helped to influence their final report in January 2018.
  • The PAC rightly criticised NHS England for its failure to ensure that NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) meet their legal responsibilities to provide appropriate NHS CHC care. It also made clear the PAC’s concerns that the planned NHS CHC budget cuts will restrict access to essential care and/or lead to fewer people actually getting the vital care needed.
  • In March, the government responded to the PAC report, but in SIA’s view failed to adequately address some of the serious deficiencies raised in the PAC report, most notably the justification of the budget cuts and revisiting the CHC assessment tools, which are the source of many of the eligibility problems that SCI people face.

SIA was delighted that the APPG meeting was well attended, and would like to thank all of our members who wrote to their MP and asked them to be there.  Those MPs shared our concerns and we will follow up with all attendees to see how they can help us address these issues.  Their briefing also included a couple of very recent NHS CHC developments:

  • The Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has written ‘Letters before Action’ to 13 CCGs. Although CCGs are under considerable pressure to reduce the costs of care, severely disabled people are lawfully entitled to such care and their specific needs must be considered during the decision-making process.  The EHRC letters could lead to legal action against these CCGs and their deeply flawed policies.
  • The Department of Health and Social Care has completed a review of the ‘National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare’ and issued the updated version, which takes effect from October 2018. SIA overwhelming regards the updated Framework as a missed opportunity to create a piece of statutory guidance that, along with a revision of the assessment tools, could have revolutionised NHS CHC delivery.

SIA is regarded as a leading expert in NHS CHC and the APPG meeting was another opportunity for us to promote the needs of our members at the highest level.  One way SIA members can support the ongoing NHS CHC campaign is to encourage your own MP to join the APPG and attend future meetings.  If you’d like advice on how to write to your MP, please email our Campaigns Manager, Dave Bracher.