NHS Continuing Healthcare 

What is it?

NHS Continuing Healthcare is also known as NHS Continuing Care and Fully Funded NHS Care. It is awarded when a person's primary need is a health need. This need may drive the cost of their care and accommodation and as such the NHS is obliged to cover the entire cost. It can be provided regardless of where the person receives care, including NHS hospitals, care homes or their own home.

How do I get it?

Clinical commissioning groups, known as CCGs (the NHS organisations that commission local health services), must assess you for NHS continuing healthcare if it seems that you may need it.

For most people, there is an initial checklist assessment, which is used to decide if you need a full assessment. However, if you need care urgently – for example, if you’re terminally ill – your assessment may be fast-tracked.

The initial checklist assessment can be completed by a nurse, doctor, other healthcare professional or social worker. You should be told that you’re being assessed, and be asked for your consent. Depending on the outcome of the checklist, you will either be told that you don't meet the criteria for a full assessment of NHS continuing healthcare and are therefore not eligible, or you will be referred for a full assessment of eligibility. 

If you are successfully referred, the full assessment for NHS continuing healthcare is undertaken by a "multi-disciplinary" team made up of a minimum of two health or care professionals who are already involved in your care. You should be informed who is co-ordinating the NHS continuing healthcare assessment. It should take no longer than 28 days to get the result.

What happens if I get it?

If you are eligible for NHS continuing healthcare, the next stage is to arrange a care and support package which meets your assessed needs.

Depending on your situation, different options could be suitable, including support in your own home and the option of a personal health budget. If it is agreed that a care home is the best option for you, there could be more than one local care home that is suitable.

Your CCG should work collaboratively with you and consider your views when agreeing your care and support package and the setting where it will be provided. However, they can also take other factors, such as the cost and value for money of different options, into account.

Does it last forever?

Not necessarily, your needs and support package should normally be reviewed within three months and thereafter at least annually. This review will consider whether your existing care and support package meets your assessed needs. If your needs have changed, the review will also consider whether you are still eligible for NHS continuing healthcare.

You can find a copy of the NHS Continuing Healthcare Checklist here.

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Regent House, Mitre Way, Battle, East Sussex TN33 0BQ. 

Jeremy Over is an accredited Later Life Adviser and member of SOLLA.