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MPs urge GPs to signpost patients to continuing healthcare

GPs are not effectively informing patients about continuing healthcare (CHC), meaning some are going without the care they need, MPs have said.

A new report from the Public Accounts Committee said this comes as ‘too many people are waiting too long’ and eligible patients are not receiving essential care.

The CHC package of continuing care is available free of charge on the NHS to adult patients with complicated, intense of unpredictable healthcare needs.

However MPs found that around two-thirds of patients did not know about CHC until very late in their healthcare journey, and only 3% of patients found out about CHC from their GP.

‘Often health and social care professionals are not signposting CHC to patients; for example only around 3% of people find out about it through their GP,’ the report said.

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They said healthcare professionals indicated that the CHC system is too complex, and 78% said that it is difficult for patients and their families to navigate.

The committee recommended that the lack of awareness should be improved by establishing where the awareness gaps are within patient and healthcare professional groups, acting on them and reporting back by next April on how the issue has been overcome.

Another major problem was the length of time people had to wait for a decision once they had applied, the report said.

While the national framework states that in most cases people should not wait more than 28 days for a decision, one-third of patients had to wait longer, and about 10% of CCGs stated that on average it took longer than 100 days.

In this case, the report recommended that CCGs must be held to account for delays in assessments and any further delays once funding has been agreed.