• Phil Austen-Jones

The Background to our NHS Continuing Healthcare Nightmare

Future blog posts will focus on the major issues that have occurred and the responses we have received from West Hampshire CCG, Hampshire County Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, the Information Commissioners Office, our MP and others. Thank goodness for computers, otherwise I think I may have needed to open a small library for all the evidence I have.


However, it is useful to give a brief background to help understand why we have been and remain so resolute in winning our battle with West Hampshire CCG.


To start off with, many people think that NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) is for the elderly. But this is not the case. My wife and I are in our early 40s. My wife obtained CHC in 2009.


With a colleague, I run a small building company. But this is only because of the impact on me and my family of fighting West Hampshire CCG. I used to be the executive headteacher of one of the largest primary schools in Surrey. I was Ofsted trained and had been an educational consultant in leadership. The impact on my mental health of fighting our cause led to me being made redundant. I wish I could describe the impact on my family but I was not well enough to know.


Working in health and the NHS is very much in my family. My brother was decorated for his work in St John Ambulance, my mum is a former nursing sister, and my dad is a retired dentist and forensic odontologist (whose wider role included forensic work for the police, being an expert witness for the law society and chairing local British Dental Association meetings).


As a family, we know health and we know how to interpret laws, policies and guidelines, as well as how to evidence our viewpoint.


Disgracefully, as a family we are involved in two NHS scandals. A much-loved relative of ours was a victim of the Gosport War Memorial Hospital scandal. To make matters worse, we only discovered this a few years ago. Our relative’s case was part of the original investigations yet my father, as next of kin, was never told that her ‘life had been shortened’ following the actions at the hospital. The battle for all families in this scandal is on-going, more than twenty years since it first started.


The other scandal is our current case regarding NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC). My wife has life-threatening epilepsy. All the experts who have known my wife for years say she needs full time medical supervision. I do most of it. We only have carers when I go to work. CHC is provided for free by the NHS for anyone who meets eligibility criteria in relation to health conditions requiring long-term support, wherever the setting (at home, care home, etc). It is not means tested.


My wife was deemed eligible in 2009 and in subsequent annual reviews, including April 2017. With major cost cutting targets, West Hampshire CCG enforced another review in November 2017. However, we were misled as to the reasoning (I will evidence this in future blog posts).


What has gone on from there is an absolute disgrace. The evidence we have indicates lies, tampering of documents, altering outcomes without our knowledge or consent to process sensitive data, refusal to answer questions and failure to follow due process and the law. After three years of fighting, we are now forced to take legal action because the probable consequences of losing are either bankruptcy or the death of my wife.


When I have a few minutes to spare, and to help maintain a sense of sanity, I volunteer on the campaign team supporting Rear Admiral Philip Mathias in obtaining a judicial review to address the national issue of CHC. Whilst it would benefit me personally to crowd fund for my own case, my conscience wants people to focus donations to the national scandal. Please visit the campaign website – nhschcscandal.co.uk – which has details of the campaign and links to donating to help reach the end of year target of £50k (£43k already raised) and eventually £150k.

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