Care postcode lottery revealed by Which?Which? discovers a huge variation in care funding

19 October 2014

Long term care

Funding for continuing care shouldn't depend on where you live

People in England who have complex medical needs face a postcode lottery as to whether the NHS pays for their care, Which? research has uncovered.

Even though a new framework was introduced in 2012 to tackle variations in care funding across the country, Which? analysis of the latest Department of Health data has revealed the problem still exists.

For example, our research has revealed that the proportion of people funded in Salford is nearly 13 times higher than in south Reading. And these figures can't be explained by differences in population, as they are adjusted to reflect that.

We have free information to help you make care choices on behalf of a loved one on our Elderly Care website.

Continuing care analysis

People with the most complex needs can ask the NHS to pay for all their care – including social care requirements, such as home carer visits. Around 60,000 people in England who are assessed as eligible get their full care costs paid for by the NHS.

Continuing care infographic

Others are only partially funded or receive no funding at all.

As you can see from our map, right, some regions do much better than others: Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear funds 84.2 people out of 50,000 on average, but Thames Valley funds only 26.8.

And Oldham - not far from Salford - funds just 27.7 compared to Salford's 144.6 per 50,000 people.

Action needed on care funding

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: 'Whether you get funding for care shouldn't depend on where you live. Our analysis suggests that the Government should keep a close eye on how this can be made fairer for patients. 

The Which? Elderly Care website has information about NHS continuing healthcare and advice on what funding you may be eligible for.'

Critics say that the government needs to collect and publish far more detailed numbers to understand what is happening. For example, how many people lose funding when their needs are reviewed. 

There are no current plans to make the data more substantial, but this may be reviewed later this year.

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