Postcode lottery for region's OAPs

PUBLISHED: 10:21 14 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:51 03 July 2010

PENSIONERS across East Anglia are the victims of a postcode lottery when it comes to securing care for chronic health problems, a leading charity claimed last night.

PENSIONERS across East Anglia are the victims of a postcode lottery when it comes to securing care for chronic health problems, a leading charity claimed last night.

Age Concern has obtained figures from the Department of Health, which show the number of people receiving continuing care from primary care trusts covering Norfolk and Suffolk is below the national average.

Statistics show there remains a huge disparity in treatment given across England, despite the introduction of new government guidelines last year to make entitlement fairer.

The average for the number of people receiving continuing care

- a package of nursing and social

care - during the last three months of 2007 was 28.78 people per 50,000 population.

However, in the Suffolk PCT area the figure was 8.08, making it the fourth lowest in the country, while in Great Yarmouth and Waveney PCT area the number was 16.63. Norfolk PCT performed better, but was still below the average with 21.05.

Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, said: “Frail older people should not be denied the care they are entitled to because of where they happen to live. This is just one example of how the care system is routinely failing older people.”

Continuing health care is where the NHS fully funds care outside of hospital when a person no longer needs acute inpatient treatment.

Across the country, Gloucestershire PCT reported the lowest level of continuing care, with 5.65 people eligible out of 50,000. The highest number was achieved by the Coventry Teaching PCT with 88.07.

While the latest figures show Norfolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney, and Suffolk at below the national average, they all recorded increases compared to the previous nine months.

Martin Langdon, head of continuing care at Norfolk PCT, said the difference in figures may be

down to different counting methods employed by PCTs. He stressed that everybody who asked to be considered for continuing care was assessed using the new framework and, if they were eligible, would receive treatment regardless of costs.

Jonathan Williams, chief nurse at Suffolk PCT, said there was an increase in its annual continuing care budget from £2.3m to £8.6m prior to the introduction of the new guidelines. The budget for NHS-funded nurses in nursing homes also rose from £6.2m to £6.8m.

He added: We are offering the best possible care to as many people as possible.”

No-one from Great Yarmouth and Waveney PCT was available to comment.

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