‘My mum is not in good enough health to deal with this’ - Sheffield family's horror over £4,000 dementia care bill

A Sheffield widow has been hit with a bill of more than £4,000 for the care her late husband received as he was dying from dementia.

Sunday, 14th July 2019, 1:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 12:47 pm

Margaret Cully last month received a bill for £4,319 for the care her husband Dave received at Woodland View Nursing Home between July and December last year.

Dave had been a long-term beneficiary of Sheffield CCG’s continuing healthcare (CHC) programme, but was reassessed in 2018 and had the benefit - which pays for 100 per cent of someone’s healthcare needs - taken away.

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Jamie Cully and his mum Margaret who received a £4000 bill for care his father received as he was dying from dementia. Picture Scott Merrylees

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Margaret and her family made it clear they could not fund the £600 per week cost themselves, but didn’t want him removing from Woodland View as they felt it would damage his health.

However, after Dave died in Woodland View last Christmas Day at the age of 86, the family received nothing more from the authorities and assumed the matter had been resolved until they received the bill this May.

Mrs Cully’s son Jamie says there is absolutely no way his mother can pay the charge and is now calling on the health authorities to make a ‘sensible decision’ and cancel it.

He said: “My mother is 80 years old and has recently received treatment for cancer. She is not in good enough health to deal with this sort of worry.

Campaigner Sue Harding.

“When I telephoned about this issue I was told that if my mother failed to pay this bill it would be handed over to a debt collecting agency!

“I was appalled that any public institution purporting to be in the caring sector would issue such a threat.”

Jamie says he believes that the CCG are failing to follow a policy they agreed in March 2012 that residents who lost their CHC funding would not be required to leave their homes in the latter stages of their lives, and that his family have been the victims of CCG cost-cutting.

“The CCG removed CHC from my father incorrectly,” he continued.

Peter Selby whose wife Julia died after funding to treat her dementia was withdrawn. Picture Scott Merrylees

“He had a serious, life limiting and deteriorating condition of dementia which they failed to adequately recognise and how can anyone say that he did not have a primary healthcare need when he died in December which was a few months from the removal of funding.”

Sue Harding of the Woodland View Support Group - a charity which campaigns on behalf of residents and their relatives - said the situation was ‘wholly unacceptable’.

She said: “Mrs Cully doesn't have this sort of money. Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust have already been paid for Mr Cully's care by the CCG as Woodland View receives block funding for the beds by CCG. So why are they seeking payment?

“Social Services became responsible for Mr Cully's care once CHC was withdrawn, yet they failed to make a decision on the case at the time and haven't communicated with the family since.

Sheffield CCG chief nurse, Mandy Philbin.

“Everyone has failed this family. It is a shocking story which highlights how real people in need of help are failed by the system. Individuals working for the so called caring services do not make appropriate decisions at the appropriate time.

“If I were to guess I think they didn't want to make a decision on this case and evict Mr Cully as they knew this would attract adverse publicity and they might get challenged in court. Instead, they take the cowards’ way out and send bills after the fact.”

Last year, Peter Selby told the Star how his wife Julia had her CHC funding taken away just weeks before she died in July 2018.

And an investigation into how CHC funding was administered by Sheffield CCG earlier this year found failures in the way they ran the programme.

A spokesperson for Sheffield CCG said that continuing healthcare funding was ‘not indefinite’.

They added commitments made in 2012 to give residents of Woodland View and Birch Avenue ‘a home for life’ only apply to patients admitted before August 2012.

This currently only applies to one resident who was resident in 2012, remains in this service, and therefore remains eligible.

Mandy Philbin, chief nurse at NHS Sheffield CCG, said: “We are unable to comment on individual cases but we can provide some general information about NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) and how the CCG works with the council to assess patients.

“The CCG provide NHS continuing healthcare eligibility assessments for people registered with a Sheffield GP, this is undertaken by registered nurses from the CCG in partnership with social workers from the council. If an individual is assessed as having a primary health need their care would be provided free of charge by the CCG. Each eligible individual should be reviewed at 3 months after the initial assessment and then annually, or when a change in need is identified, to ensure that they receive the right care, in the right setting, provided by the right staff.

“If an individual doesn’t meet the eligibility criteria for CHC then the CCG has a duty to assess an individual for funded nursing care. If an individual meets the criteria for funded nursing care, the CCG will pay a nationally set contribution towards the care, this amount changes yearly. The remaining cost of the care required is the responsibility of the council who are required to undertake a financial assessment, depending on the outcome of this the individual may have to pay towards their social care needs.

“Funded nursing care can only be paid to an individual who is resident in a 24 hour care/nursing facility. If eligible, it means that the majority of the person’s needs are social care, however some needs require a registered nurse to plan, supervise and monitor nursing and healthcare tasks.

“If the individual doesn’t meet the criteria for CHC or funded nursing care then their needs are social care needs only, any social care needs would be the responsibility of the council and dependent on a financial assessment.”