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Fair access to care services

The Department of Health has published the final version of its guidance for councils managing access to care services, in the hope that it will remedy the national variations that have been experienced to date. In this article, Caroline Bielanska, solicitor, TEP and freelance consultant, examines the latest guidelines and assesses how far they will solve the problems in care service funding and distribution.

9 October 2002

The Department of Health has issued the final version of the local authority circular 1, which gives guidance to councils with social services responsibilities on how they may achieve through reviewing and revising their eligibility criteria for adult social care services. The circular should be read in conjunction with both the policy and practice guidance issued in July2. The mandatory3 guidance must be followed by 7 April 2003, a year later than originally planned4. The need for national guidance was identified in the 1998 White Paper, Modernising Social Services, as different councils use different criteria and reviews of eligibility, which has lead to national variations and at times unfairness. In addition some councils use different or stricter criteria for certain groups of adults who request help.

Needs assessments

It is fair to say that the application of this guidance is only as good as the quality of the assessment undertaken and so the star...

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