Local policy changes require PCTs to go beyond legal duties in conducting NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) eligibility assessments for previously un-assessed period of care

PCTs are currently suffering an onslaught of requests for retrospective assessments of CHC eligibility following the announcement of the deadlines for such requests by Sir David Nicholson in March last year. This has been compounded by a policy change by SHAs up and down the country, supported by the Department of Health, requiring PCTs to go beyond their legal duties in accepting requests for assessments of previously un-assessed periods of care, even where they had no knowledge of, and there is no evidence to suggest they should have had knowledge of, the individual at the relevant time. However, if there was no legal obligation on a PCT to conduct an assessment at the relevant time because it did not appear to the PCT that there was a need for such care (which is the position set out in Directions going back to 2004), there is no legal obligation to conduct an assessment retrospectively now. The approach adopted by SHAs in their guidance is imposing an unsustainable burden on both staffing and financial resources of PCTs, as well as posing practical difficulties in seeking the relevant information needed to conduct an assessment, which will soon be passed onto CCGs. This is only guidance, however, and PCTs/CCGs may wish to seek legal advice to clarify their position and challenge the guidance.

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