An important change to Independent Review timescales – don’t miss the new deadline for submitting evidence

Posted on: October 14th, 2019 by Jane

Beacon has learned that NHS England has implemented a new procedure on timescales for Independent Review.

Independent Review is the second stage of appeal for CHC eligibility decisions – the first being Local Resolution. The new rules came into effect nationally on 1 October, though they’ve been piloted in a few areas already.

The change in procedure cuts the period during which all written evidence to be considered in the review can be submitted. We’re concerned that it will impact families’ ability to prepare thoroughly for this stage of the appeal process.

What’s changed?

If you request an Independent Review, you’ll be sent a form to complete, called the Application for Independent Review. It invites you to document why you believe there are grounds to appeal the decision made by your Clinical Commission Group, following completion of the Local Resolution stage.

You have six weeks to send this summary back. But, under the old rules, if you were offered an independent review panel, additional evidence and arguments could be submitted by yourself or your representative usually until about one month before the panel.

Under the new rules, all evidence and supporting statements have to be submitted with the completed form by the six-week deadline.

Why we’re concerned

If people aren’t aware of the new six-week deadline they may not prepare or seek representation quickly enough, and miss out on their best chance of presenting a comprehensive and persuasive case.

In our extensive experience, the key to a fair assessment or appeal is to build a thorough understanding of our clients’ care needs. At appeal stages, this includes making a comprehensive analysis of all written and verbal evidence, including care records, and by talking to the health and social care professionals who know you the best, to inform our supporting statement.

Beacon may be unique in the level of care we take to get to know the person’s day-to-day needs. However, any experienced CHC solicitor will agree that it takes more than a few weeks to prepare a high-quality supporting statement for Independent Review.

Stopping unscrupulous behaviour

This procedure change will have one benefit. It will stop unscrupulous claims firms submitting multiple versions of subtly updated statements – and charging their clients each time.

While we welcome the fact that the new rules will stamp out this practice, we are concerned that people could miss out on their best chance of a successful appeal with quality representation.

What should you do?

If you’re going through the Continuing Healthcare appeals process, you need to keep these new rules in mind. If you or your loved one is deemed ineligible at Local Resolution, and you decide to proceed to Independent Review, STOP!

Do not request an Independent Review until you have thoroughly prepared. If you decide to seek representation contact us, or your chosen representative, BEFORE you request the Independent Review.

Once you make that request, the clock starts ticking down the time you or we have to build your case. So call us first. Then we can start work on your case, including advising at what point to trigger the Independent Review process within the six-month deadline after your Local Resolution decision.

How we can help

For more information on the appeals process, receive our FREE toolkit today – it’s a comprehensive guide to the Continuing Healthcare process, written by experts here at Beacon.

If you can’t find the answer to your question in our toolkit or FAQs, contact our free Information and Advice Service.

If you have been assessed as not eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare, and are seeking representation to help you appeal, our Appeal Management Service can lead the process on your behalf.