NHS Managers Rig Medical Evidence!

Nursing Fees. (Extract from "Reaching Out", magazine of the Guillain Barre Group for July 2002)

By Derek Cole.

"Totally false" is the only phrase to describe the claim in a letter to me by an NHS Manager in the North West that our member had been medically assessed as liable to pay for his own care. This was later admitted to be completely untrue by the NHS Care Coordinator and a Social Worker at a meeting at which the family produced the Consultant's report detailing our member's total disability. It then emerged that neither officer had bothered to obtain this. When the family accused the Health Trust of automatically turning patients known to have savings out of hospital to pay for themselves, thereby trampling on their legal rights, the Matron of the Nursing Home vigorously agreed and it was not denied.. The Matron has signed the family's note of the meeting and gives strong support to the Consultant's opinion.

A "Review Panel" about an Alzheimers Patient in the South West accused Managers of corrupting the medical evidence. The H.A.'s own Medical and Nursing assessors both agreed. The panel say they have "serious reservations" about the conduct of the Managers because "... ........ The involvement of ..... the Authority's representative ... was in itself an invidious practice". The Panel accuse managers of coming to an "adverse conclusion on the absence of evidence" as a result of the "...redrafting of submitted medical reports." The Assessors say there were "....wording changes made as a result of consultation with the H.A.'s solicitors". (That the patient needed intensive nursing day and night was deleted from the evidence) As a result, "discrepancies come light at the review of the changes made to the original assessment as written .............altered the strength of the language in regards to Mr X's needs." .They refer to the "use of draft reports which were then changed at the authority's request....".

One of our members was told that the Family Doctor had ruled that a friend was not eligible for "free continuing care". The G.P. in the presence of our member angrily phoned officials to say this was not true, that her views were the exact opposite, and countersigned our member's report to that effect. Lawyers for the H.A. admitted on 18/5/2002 that a secret meeting in June 01 considered the liability of the N.H.S. to pay. The very fact of the meeting was unlawfully concealed Baroness Ludford, M.E.P., a Barrister and spokesman for the European Liberal Democrats on Human Rights in their Parliament, visited our member and made off with a copy of "Reaching Out". Her party colleague, Paul Burstow M.P. has issued a report (available on www.paulburstow.com) giving many instances of the flat refusal of the N.H.S. to obey the ruling of the Court of Appeal. (Note Dec 2002 - Jean Woolley now has all her Nursing Home Fees paid and received £25000 compensationfor the unlawful sale of her home).

In East Sussex I asked a verbal question at County Council by written notice and the Director of Social Services replied - "The County Council has concerns about the Health Authority's interpretation of its legal obligations in relation to the provision of continuing health care and it has been actively seeking to persuade the Health Authority to adopt a more helpful position, which we are advised would be more appropriate." In other words, the Health Authority has been breaking the law.

Nursing Fees - Five Victories; Two Major refunds

In contrast, full marks to North Yorks! After studying the cases, Social Services there have obtained a full refund from the Health Authority to Social Services and for our member, who was cared for at home. One of our members in Croydon, with help from Richard Ottaway M.P. (Cons), first made the Health Trust pay Jean Woolley's fees with a very limited refund. Using a Fourteen Day Notice, (below) he then secured a further £25000 refund plus costs. It has now emerged that our first victory, in Essex, was won because Social Services, after taking Counsel's opinion, passed our member back to the Health Authority. We are seeking a refund. Havering Social Services have suspended collecting payments from our member at home awaiting a decision from the Health Trust. The family of a member in Hertfordshire refused to pay , quoting the cases, when she was due to leave hospital . I am resisting a claim that a member in Merton must pay £2000 himself for necessary equipment at home.

No G.B.S. cases wrongly handled have so far come to light in Scotland, but a member has been pursuing the Glasgow Health Board on behalf of a totally incapacitated brother. If a case does occur, the ground is prepared for us. With great reluctance, and thanks to energetic support from Jim Murphy M.P. (Lab), the Health Board has just taken full legal opinion on the impact on Scots Law and agreed to send in a totally independent consultant to report.

Judges require "Fourteen Day" reply.

One distasteful tactic of Health Trusts I have faced is "Kick it into touch". NHS Managers are very, very slow to reply. Some cases have taken over a year. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, and the principle Judge of the new Administrative Court, Mr Justice Scott Baker, have from 4th March, 2002, brought this to an abrupt end . In "Cowl AND Plymouth City Council" on 14th December, 2001, Lord Woolf for the Court of Appeal ruled that all disputes with Public Bodies must be settled by the parties via local Tribunals, only bringing difficult points of Law to Court. This is what I have been demanding. As soon as Lord Woolf gave Judgement, Judge Scott-Baker issued a new "Protocol" for his Court requiring Public Bodies to give a substantive response with FOURTEEN DAYS. I have enjoyed myself in May, 2002 issuing FOURTEEN DAY NOTICES on behalf of our members and others in the South West, the North West, Essex, Havering and Croydon.