Continuing healthcare (CHC) is a free package of care available to adults requiring care and support outside hospital settings. The fully-funded support covers a person's care and residential accommodation, but is only available to those who have complex or unpredictable needs.
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However, when a person's health is rapidly deteriorating, and when they are considered to be approaching the end of their life, they may be allowed fast-tracked CHC care.
All 29 fast-track applications were granted in Portsmouth over the three-month period, but just six of the 22 standard applications were.
Age UK said ‘chronic underfunding’ nationally means CHC is struggling to support older people with the greatest health needs all over the country, and that local variation is becoming more pronounced.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: ‘This situation is grossly unfair on older people and their families, especially those with no one to speak up on their behalf.
‘They can end up paying enormous care bills which should have been the responsibility of the state.
‘The legal battles over this can go on for years, way beyond a person's death, leaving a really a bad taste in the mouth for the families left behind.’
Across England, every fast-track assessment was also deemed eligible between July and September, but just 25 per cent of standard ones were.
This was down from 28 per cent during the same period last year, though assessments were paused for much of this time because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A spokesman at NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group said: ‘Patient applications for continuing healthcare are assessed by the CCG, council and Solent NHS Trust, based on needs and circumstances in line with a national framework, rather than available funding.’
The figures also showed over the summer 490 out of 780 assessments for continuing healthcare packages in Hampshire were deemed eligible.
Of these all of the fast-track applications were approved but just 57 of the 347 standard ones were.
The Hampshire and Isle of Wight CCG was contacted for comment.