DCSIMG

Chronically ill patients won’t have to pay - Neil

Health secretary Alex Neil. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Health secretary Alex Neil. Picture: Ian Rutherford

  • by LYNSEY BEWS
 

No PATIENTS will suffer financial loss following a review of long-term care, health secretary Alex Neil has claimed.

Mr Neil stressed that there was “absolutely no intention” to charge people for primary healthcare needs, while patient safety and quality of care will 
remain the Scottish Government’s “over-riding concerns”.

The health secretary was making a statement to Holyrood on the future of care services following the publication of a review into the long-term care of chronically ill people.

Mr Neil ordered the review of the system last June after concerns that it was not being applied properly and that people may have had to pay for services they should have had free of charge.

“Continuing care” is a fully funded package arranged by the health service where someone has been assessed as having unpredictable and very high-level clinical care needs.

The review recommended the system be completely revised. Mr Neil told MSPs that the Scottish Government accepted the calls to overhaul the system.

He added: “Any changes to the current policy will only come into effect when new guidance is consulted upon and developed, and this will be in April 2015. Any patient who is currently in receipt of continuing care in a care home, or who is assessed as requiring continuing care 
before new guidance has been put in place, will continue to receive the same level of financial support as they would do today.

“No patient will suffer financial loss resulting from the implementation of the recommendations.”

However, Mr Neil’s statement came amid confusion over the report’s suggestion that only people who have to live in hospital should be exempt from accommodation charges linked to continuing care.

Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “Families are facing the perverse incentive of trying to make sure their loved ones stay in hospital to avoid crippling personal charges. The recommendations in this report are a fundamental breach of the guiding principle of the NHS – that is, an NHS that is free at the point of need.”

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume said: “The future of NHS continuing care is as clear as mud.

“Last week, the Scottish Government’s own independent review recommended that accommodation costs are only paid for patients who are treated in 
hospital. Today the health secretary seemed to say that nothing will change. We need to know which it is.”

 

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