Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) should use well-trained non-clinical staff ‘wherever possible’ to address the backlog of continuing healthcare (CHC) assessments, the Government has said.
Guidance issued to CCGs and local authorities on the reintroduction of NHS CHC said that this would give clinical or professional staff more time to focus on ‘robust eligibility recommendations’.
The assessments, as well as three and 12 month reviews and individual requests to review eligibility decisions, resume today, following a five month suspension due to Covid-19.
The guidance states that CCGs and local authorities will need to secure ‘sufficient staff’ to deal with the backlog of work deferred between 19 March and 31 August, as well as new referrals.
This might include hiring additional temporary health and social care staff, it said, and all workers should be supported with good training programmes and supervision.
Responsibility for funding
The Government-funded Covid-19 discharge and recovery service budget, which paid for packages of care and support to free up hospital capacity while CHC assessments were suspended, will also not be used to fund any new cases from today.
CCGs will assume responsibility for the care costs of individuals whose care was funded using the Covid-19 budget if they are assessed as eligible for NHS CHC funding at the end of the assessment process, the guidance said.
It added: ‘Where individuals are assessed and found eligible for NHS CHC and they, or the local authority, funded any part of their care while awaiting an NHS CHC assessment, then CCGs should arrange for refunds to take place directly to the individual or the local authority, as long as that funding arrangement is consistent with the national framework.’
Six weeks to arrange long-term support
Additional guidance issued on hospital discharge said that CCGs and local authorities should also ensure patients being discharged from hospital have their long-term care needs, including NHS CHC and Care Act assessments, completed within six weeks.
‘CCGs will not be able to draw down from the discharge support funding after the end of the sixth week to fund any care package beyond this date. On the rare occasion that a decision is not reached within this time frame, the parties paying for the care should continue to do so until the relevant ongoing care assessments are complete,’ it said.
Costs cannot be charged to the discharge support fund after week seven, the guidance said, and must instead be met from existing budgets, with CCGs and local authorities expected to agree an approach for funding care from that point.