Norwich group hits out at NHS

Sarah BrealeyA charity representing disabled people in Norwich has hit out at NHS handling of controversial proposals to force some of the most seriously ill people into nursing homes.Sarah Brealey

A charity representing disabled people has hit out at NHS handling of controversial proposals to force some of the most seriously ill people into nursing homes.

Last month the Evening News reported concerns over proposals to change the way NHS continuing healthcare is provided locally, which would mean that in future people would not usually get care at home, only in a nursing home or hospice. And they may not be able to go to their first choice of nursing home if it is more expensive than the cheapest option.

The consultation on the changes - which has already cost �1,000 - has now been suspended. NHS Norfolk and NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, which were making the joint proposals, have given the reason that 'The provision of long term care by the NHS is increasingly a matter of national debate. We believe that our public consultation will be given greater clarity and strength by waiting for any conclusions resulting from that wider debate.'

But they have refused to say any more about their reasons.

Mark Harrison, chief executive of the Norfolk Coalition for Disabled People, said: 'The public has been left to speculate about the reasons why. I am concerned that they came up with it in the first place.'

He complained that there had been no consultation with organisations like his own.

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Caroline Fairless-Price, 53, a mother-of-two with multiple sclerosis from Cringleford, has asked for an apology 'for the distress that this ill-conceived document has caused us and others', but has received no reply. She said: 'I thought they might at least have the courtesy to let us know that it had been withdrawn,' adding: 'I'm very keen that anyone who might be affected by these proposals still responds to the PCT as I'm worried they will try to bring them back after the election.'

Ian Mack, chairman of NHS Norfolk's clinical executive said: 'We entirely understand the difficulties faced by all families in receipt of continuing healthcare. A reply to the Price family is being drafted and NHS Norfolk expects to send it in due course.'

The proposed changes affect severely ill people who get NHS continuing healthcare, not social services care.

The health trusts said they wanted to focus on clinical safety and that it is getting too expensive to provide continuing care, which costs �31.1m a year in Norfolk, more than twice as much as two years ago. But the changes were only expected to save �1m.

t Are you or a loved one affected by these proposals? Contact Evening News reporter Sarah Brealey on 01603 772485 or email