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Health trusts set for claims over care

PUBLISHED: 08:58 04 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:32 03 July 2010

HEALTH trusts in Norfolk and Suffolk are facing millions of pounds in compensation claims from patients and their families who were wrongly made to pay for continuing care and nursing care.

HEALTH trusts in Norfolk and Suffolk are facing millions of pounds in compensation claims from patients and their families who were wrongly made to pay for continuing care and nursing care.

Great Yarmouth and Waveney primary care trust (PCT) is expecting to overspend by around £4m this year on compensation payments. The PCT's financial position is good, and it is set to break even at the end of the year, but the issue of compensation is described by the trust's finance director as “the biggest risk facing the PCT's financial position”.

In Norfolk, £2.5m has already been paid out in compensation, but Norfolk and Yarmouth and Waveney PCTs have between them had 55 new claims since November.

Since 1996, people with complex and long-lasting needs should have had their social, personal and health care needs paid for by the NHS if they qualified. But East Norfolk District Health Authority's rules were so stringent that few could qualify; Suffolkwere less stringent but it was hard for people to find out about them. Clearer systems were introduced in 2003, which raised the number qualifying from 22 in 2002 to 260 in 2007. There have been 550 claims in Norfolk, of which around 100 have been paid a total of £2.5m.

The government wants all these compensation claims to be settled by the end of the month, which is unlikely to happen. It has also decided that people can now be compensated for distress, loss of earnings, and the loss of house value. Both PCTs are adopting new rules on how claims should be dealt with. There are now standard national guidelines on who should have to pay for care, but East Anglian PCTs have only fully followed national guidance since February last year - meaning they are exposed to claims for dates up until then.

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