Any Government may try to change the law, and legalise the distinction between "Social Care" and Health Care. The existing Law demands free long term care be given to all who need it. It has done so since the 1946 National Health Service Act. There has even been talk of a "National Care Service".
Pamela Coughlan won her case in the Appeal Court, against the New Labour Government over ten years ago. This case made the law very clear: anyone with health care needs the same or greater than Pam, is entitled to full funding by the NHS. i.e. "Continuing Care". This includes all costs, including those of accommodation - as when in an NHS Hospital. This full funding applies if the patient is in a Hospital, Hospice, Care Home, or even their own home.
The Ombudsman, The Royal College of Nursing, and The Law Society have made the facts clear: "Social Care" is part of Health Care, and the Law demands that anyone with care needs the same or greater than Pam Coughlan, must be 100% funded by the NHS - including all costs of the Care Home.
The New Labour Government followed a strategy, conceived by the earlier Thatcher Government, to evade the legal obligation of the NHS to pay for long term care. e.g. the result of stroke, road accident, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or a host of other health conditions. The NHS closed down long term stay beds, typically occupied by geriatric patients, and used Social Services to approach the family, misinform them, and get them to pay for the Care Home, after means testing. Those that do not have sufficient savings, or a house to sell, become the burden of local Council Tax payers.
Sadly, few people know the simple facts and how to claim or recover what is rightfully theirs. Those that have are a small proportion of the hundreds of thousands of families who have been duped into paying Care Home fees, when the Law demands that the NHS should pay. The last Government and Department of Health have spent the last ten years, since Pam Coughlan's historic victory in the Appeal Court, "ducking and weaving".
£250,000 was won back last year from the NHS, by a family who had sold their house to pay for care. The Law firm who represented them has already won over £9million for hundreds of other families.
The web site www.NHSCare.info was set up in 2002 after Robin Lovelock received expert "Coughlan" legal advice related to his late mother. Over the years this web site, and the "Coughlan Campaign" group have provided expert advice to hundreds if not thousands of families, and Law Firms who now offer "no win no fee" services to claim back Care Home costs from the NHS. The group include Steve Squires and David Gooch, two of the "winners" in the first Ombudsman's Report, published in early 2003. The small group includes legal experts and Pam Coughlan herself, together with a network of families, some of whom have already won their case. A linked message board provides a Forum and support for claiments throughout the country. The Coughlan Campaign group, and www.NHSCare.info have been the primary source of information whenever there is interest in the subject of "Coughlan" and long term care.
Governments and NHS have continued to evade paying for the majority of patients in Care Homes. This is despite criticism by the Ombudsman, the Royal College of Nursing, and the Law Society. The last Government employed delaying tactics of consultation on a new "National Framework". These new rules were criticised by the Law Society, since they did not include a simple "Coughlan Test". i.e. comparison of the patient's care needs with those of Ms Coughlan. Instead, these deliberately vague rules were put in place in late 2008, and - of course - result in the majority of patients being denied Continuing Care - to which they are entitled under the Law.
from Robin Lovelock, editor of www.NHSCare.info. January 2011. Robin@nhscare.info
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