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NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding Interview With Cate Searle

On Friday I appeared on BBC Radio Sussex to discuss the recently announced deadlines for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding appeals and the importance of ensuring that elderly people and their families are well-informed on the realities of this complex and often misunderstood area of community care law.

I was interviewed on Sussex Breakfast alongside Ed, a former client of mine who is a prime example of someone who only came across NHS CHC funding by accident. His case is indicative of a much broader trend; Age UK research suggests as many as 75% of the people who qualify for NHS CHC funding don’t receive it, sometimes because they simply aren’t aware it is available and at other times because their application is wrongly turned down.

Unfortunately, 30 September 2012 marked the deadline for lodging an appeal for any case between 1 April 2004 and 31st March 2011. My team and I have been working hard to help as many clients and their families as possible, but the reality is that many people across the country are still unaware of their rights, or that a further deadline of 31 March 2013 is in place for those cases covering the period 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012.

Of course, it doesn’t help matters that the Department of Health does not seem to have gone to a great effort to publicise the deadlines, and some of the national media coverage has unfortunately been misleading or contradictory. As a result some families think that they will automatically get what has sometimes been promoted as a “cash-back” or “care fee refund bonanza” simply because their relative spent time in a care home or nursing home. This means that many families have been contacting me believing they should be eligible for NHS CHC funding, when sadly it is extremely unlikely on the basis of their relative’s individual needs that they would meet the eligibility criteria. This could mean that people spend months – or longer – pursuing a “claim” that will not succeed and also that they may spend money paying for advice (legal or otherwise) that will not achieve their objectives.

I do feel that it is essential for anyone who has lodged a retrospective application for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding to get specialist advice from an experienced solicitor, advisor or independent Nurse Assessor on how to approach the case and the prospects of success.

You can listen to my interview with Neil Pringle on Sussex Breakfast on the BBC iPlayer website by clicking the logo below – skip ahead to the 2:27:00 mark.

(This programme is no longer available.)

Our community care law team are currently compiling a new series of factsheets and FAQs which will appear on the martin searle solicitors website, helping to clarify how families can plan and pay for care. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or Facebook to make sure you’re kept up to date when the information is published.

About the author

Cate Searle


Based primarily in our Brighton office, I lead the community care law team. As one of a very small number of solicitors specialising in NHS continuing healthcare law, I have built an expanding practice in this area which has given our firm a nationwide profile far and above its relative size. I also provide expert opinion on community care law issues for the specialist press, speak as a guest lecturer and train other legal professionals. In 2011 I was asked by the Law Commission to give my views as part of the consultation on proposals for inclusion in the Adult Health & Social Care Bill.

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