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Last Updated: Monday, 12 July 2004, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Fighting for care
Peter and Ann
Peter has vowed to fight the NHS to get the right care for Ann
Panorama: Fighting for care was broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, 18 July 2004 at 22:15 BST.

What drives Peter, a 69 year old pensioner whose wife has dementia, to swear he'll fight the NHS 'until his dying breath' to get the right health care for his wife Ann.

Why does Barbara, aged 64, have to spend nearly three years battling the health service to keep her dying husband at home?

And why, even after a major government review, is one of this country's most vital care systems for frail, elderly people still being underminded by delays, obstruction and injustice?

Last year the Health Ombudsman reported that `NHS Continuing Care' (free care for certain people with long term illnesses) had been withheld from too many people at the most vulnerable stage of their lives.

The government said it would change the system and investigate any possible wrongful denials of Continuing Care dating back to 1996. It never expected to be investigating over 11,000 such cases and facing a bill for at least 180m in compensation.

The Department of Health now says it's made the system fairer, but Panorama has filmed for four months with Barbara, Freda and Peter who are still having to take on the NHS and fight every inch of the way for the health care their spouses deserve.

But even if the system was working smoothly with fair access to all, can we as a society really afford to fund the tens of thousands who may be eligible?

Continuing Care costs the NHS around 1,000 per week per person. Are we prepared to pay the high price of loving care during someone's dying days, or accept that other NHS priorities mean only those able to fight hardest for support will ever receive it?

Production team:
Producer: Jonathan Brunert
Reporter: Andy Davies
Deputy Editor: Andrew Bell
Editor: Mike Robinson



SEE ALSO
The struggle with continuing care
16 Jul 04 |  Panorama
Where is your SHA?
18 Jul 04 |  Panorama
The couples
18 Jul 04 |  Panorama
Continuing Care Q&A
16 Jul 04 |  Panorama
Your comments
16 Jul 04 |  Panorama

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