Page last updated at 08:23 GMT, Friday, 28 August 2009 09:23 UK

NHS care funding cut criticised

The NHS was told it considered overspends as a higher priority than patients

The way some of Devon's most vulnerable patients had their care funding cut has been criticised.

When Devon NHS reviewed the cases of 300 people receiving continuing healthcare, it found about half were no longer eligible.

But a large number of families appealed against the withdrawal of funding, leading to an independent review.

The report said tackling a financial overspend was considered a higher priority than the needs of patients.

It said although NHS Devon was right to review the cases, addressing the financial shortfall had been the priority and there had been a lack of regard for patients and families.

We're going to make sure we get the communications right to ensure people are properly involved in the process
Dr Kevin Snee, NHS Devon

The review was jointly commissioned by NHS Devon and the South West Strategic Health Authority, with the report written by independent consultant Tim Skelton and Stella Doble, a director of adult services from NHS Bath and North East Somerset.

The report sets out a number of recommendations for improvement, many of which have already been implemented.

Although NHS Devon has denied finance was the reason for withdrawing funding, it said it welcomed and accepted the report's findings.

Chief executive Dr Kevin Snee said there were lessons to be learnt and changes had already been made to the way NHS Devon handles continuing healthcare.

'Fair' system

"We have developed new processes and made improvements in the way we involve family members," Dr Snee said.

While the review was being conducted, funding for all the clients involved continued.

"We will be contacting all of those affected in the coming couple of weeks so people will have a very clear idea of exactly where they stand," Dr Snee told BBC News.

"We're going to make sure we get the communications right to ensure people are properly involved in the process.

"We want a system that is clear and fair for everyone and we have every confidence that this is now the case."



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