MPs find key NHS system is letting down too many vulnerable people

Back in November, Sue Ryder Hospice Director Elise Hoadley sat in a room in Westminster, and spoke to a powerful and influential committee of MPs about something called NHS Continuing Healthcare.

Elise was there to help the MPs understand how it worked, and what some of the challenges were.

Continuing healthcare is a package of care, provided outside of hospital, that exists for people who have significant ongoing healthcare needs. For these individuals, the NHS arranges and pays for their care.

This is something that is really important for people who, for instance, have long-term neurological conditions, and need specialist support to manage their symptoms and ensure a good quality of life.

Continuing healthcare is also really important for people whose condition is deteriorating rapidly or are entering a terminal phase, as there is a special ‘fast track’ process to get people who are set up with care quickly.

Latest report findings

The MPs Elise spoke to have been conducting an investigation into continuing healthcare, and have published their final report today.

We were really pleased to see that the report picks up on many of the themes that Elise highlighted in her evidence.

The MPs found that too many people are waiting too long to find out if they are eligible for continuing healthcare, and to receive the essential care that they need. They also found that many people are missing out on support because they simply don’t know about it or because they find the system too difficult to navigate.

In addition, they found that people’s experiences of the system vary wildly depending on which part of the country they live in.

"This system working properly is crucial"

It’s natural to feel your eyes start to glaze over when you read words like 'NHS funding stream' and 'committee report', but make no mistake – this stuff really matters.

Crucially, this system working properly can mean the difference between someone being able to have a good death in the place of their choice – and not. And this system working properly can mean the difference between someone getting the support they need for their health condition, and someone missing out.

It’s fantastic that the committee has shone a light on this really important topic, and made a number of practical suggestions for NHS England to improve the system.

At Sue Ryder, we will continue to share our experiences of how the system is working on the ground and to push for further improvements in this area, so that it can work effectively for everyone who needs it.

Read the full NHS continuing healthcare report