As you may know at around the time of the making of the Panorama programme the NHS Homes Swindle I had been successful in proving that the NHS had been wrong in denying that my late mother was entitled to free NHS Continuing Care during the period of her four year stay as an inpatient in first NHS hospitals and then Willow Lodge EMI Home. Amazingly, despite winning a number of appeals hearings, the NHS still maintained that for a period of thirteen weeks in the middle of my mother's illness, that she did not qualify for NHS continuing care. Through freedom of information requests I have been able to ascertain that the public sector bodies involved have spent more than £20,000 on independent legal advice to try and counter the legal arguments that I have put forward to show that my father who is still alive aged 83 but dealing with a range of health problems of his own is not liable to pay for any of my mother's care.
Finally last month I attended a final appeal meeting at the London SHA in Victoria and put my arguments making it clear that if the appeal members found against me, my father would not pay and we would defend any action for recovery brought by the Local Authority in the County Court on the grounds that the NHS had never correctly applied the Section 21 test.
Happy to now report that after a battle lasting six years the SHA has written to me to say that the panel agreed that decisions taken by the various PCT's involved in the assessment process were unsound and that my late mother was always entitled to fee NHS Continuing Care for the whole of her illness, even though originally the NHS said that she was not entitled to free NHS Continuing Care for a single day.
I find it sad, but in no way exceptional that the NHS and the London Borough of Croydon were prepared to spend so much public money to try and deny my parents their statutory entitlement to free NHS Care. I have been awarded a £1000 payment in compensation by the Local Government Ombudsman for maladministration in my mother's case and the Health Services Ombudsman is currently considering the role of the PCT's in my six year battle. I estimate that when you take account of the internal costs incurred, the external fees paid and the compensation payment for maladministration, the amount that public bodies spent on tying to deny my mother's entitlements to fee NHS care amounted to over £100,000 more than it would have cost to have carried out a lawful assessment in the first place.
The struggle needs to go on and I will continue to help others ensure that the NHS does not continue to break the law without being challenged.