The Blue Badge regulations will be amended from 30th August 2019, in England, for those with a hidden disability which limits their ability to walk safely. The Blue Badge regulations will be amended from 30th August 2019, in England, for those with a hidden disability which limits their ability to walk safely. Blue Badge holders are able to park closer to their destination, either as the driver or passenger, in disabled parking bays, usually for free on streets with parking meters or pay-and-display machines, and on single or double yellow lines for up to 3 hours in certain circumstances. The eligibility criteria for a Blue Badge has been extended beyond those with a physical disability to now include those who: • cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person; • cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable psychological distress; • have very considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act and experience of walking); and • scored 10 points under the 'planning and following journeys' activity of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) by virtue of being unable to undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress to them. This will lead to automatic entitlement in much the same way as scoring 8 points under the ‘moving around’ activity of PIP which is already in place. The regulations also amend the current requirement that the disability be 'permanent and substantial', changing it to 'enduring and substantial'. Those who do not meet the automatic eligibility criteria linked to PIP awards, can still apply and go through the standard assessment process. Under the new regulations, ‘expert assessors’ with specialist experience of non-physical impairments, can be appointed by the local authority to undertake the assessment to determine eligibility.
A New Year, a new crisis looming in the NHSJan 25th, 2018
A new report, 'NHS continuing healthcare funding', published by the Committee of Public Accounts, highlights the difficulties people face accessing NHS continuing healthcare (CHC).CHC funding is intended to help some of the most vulnerable people by providing funding or services to help the seriously ill manage their conditions outside of a hospital setting.
The report identifies a number of key concerns including:
- A lack of awareness of the availability of CHC funding;
- A ‘hugely complicated’ application and assessment process;
- A lack of support and advice for patients and their families during the application process;
- Significant delays with the assessment process;
- ‘Unacceptable variation’ between regions as to the numbers found eligible for funding;
- Inconsistent interpretation of the eligibility criteria by different Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) across England; and
- The Department of Health and NHS England are not sufficiently monitoring or supporting CCGs.
The most alarming finding of the report concerns the plan for CCGs to make efficiency savings of £855 million by 2020-21, raising fears savings could be made by restricting access to care, either by increasing eligibility thresholds or by limiting the care packages available.The report recommends NHS England provides the Committee with a costed breakdown, by April 2018, of how these efficiency savings will be achieved, and assurance that this will not result in restricted access to care for vulnerable patients.
Hopefully, the Committee’s recommendations will be adopted by NHS England and the close scrutiny will prevent further failings, however it seems likely the regional variations and delays will persist for some time.