A raft of charities have indicated that they are concerned about the reduction in funding for a Continuing Healthcare improvement programme.
Fourteen member charities of the Continuing Healthcare Alliance have written to Professor Jane Cummings, NHS England’s chief nursing officer, in order to voice their displeasure.
“We are very concerned that one of the [programme’s] key aims seems to be to reduce the money spent on NHS CHC. We cannot unreservedly support any project where one of the aims is to reduce the spend on NHS CHC, as we believe this would have a hugely detrimental impact on the highly vulnerable people we support,” the letter notes.
The CHC commissioning program had been launched by NHS England back in December.
Yet the NHS England website has failed to mention the initiative, and there is concern about the implications of the programme among the charities involved.
NHS England has indicated that it intends to undergo a consultation on the matter during the 2017/18 financial year, but there is no indication whether the improvement programme will be a precursor to this consultation.
A previous report by the National Audit Office has indicated that CHC programs are expected to deliver 2% efficiency savings on an annual basis between now and the end of the decade.
But there is concern that the CHC initiative is being utilised as a covert way of enabling clinical commissioning groups to cut or restrict care packages.
It has already been discovered that 18 of the 44 sustainable transformation areas have included proposals within their remit to reduce the combined CHC budget of the clinical commissioning groups.
Experts believe that this will be unachievable without cutting care packages.
And the letter from CHC Alliance concurs with this assessment, stating that there is “significant risk that these budget cuts may be achieved by reducing the number of people eligible, and cutting the spend on care packages. Safeguards must be put in place to prevent this outcome.”
The alliance members are: Stroke Association; Age UK; MS Society; Parkinson’s UK; Sue Ryder; Marie Curie; Spinal Injuries Association; Dementia UK; Multiple System Atrophy Trust; Motor Neuron Disease Association; Beacon; Carers’ Trust; Alzheimer’s Society; and the Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Association.
Hilda Hayo, chief executive of Dementia UK, suggested that there should be significant concerns about the strategy in relation to this programme.
“We feel very strongly that families are getting a poor deal with CHC allocation. The strategy programme should be aimed at improving things but it doesn’t look like it will improve things for families. It is an awful situation for them.”