NHS Continuing Healthcare

There is a line between NHS Health Care and local authority Social Care Services, but no clear distinction as to where the line is drawn. This is where NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) is needed. There are 250,000 applications for it a year, 22% of these are successful.

To qualify for CHC, you must prove there is a primary health need for someone over the age of 18. To have a primary health need, the overall health and social care requirements should be particularly complex or intense or unpredictable. Examples could be a complex medication regime which causes side effects and needs careful monitoring, or a skin lesion that isn’t healing. These are not prescriptive; care needs vary from case to case. There is a long and complicated process to determine a primary health need.

CHC covers the full cost of care and any residential accommodation needed. Without it, there’s no NHS financial support unless you’re in a nursing home. Then you will get a small contribution.

Although few people are caught up in the system, for those that are the consequences are significant. It could be the difference between keeping and selling your house to pay for care fees. CHC can be life-changing.


Beacon was set up in response to a growing need for advice and support on navigating the CHC process. There are few services like it, due to the complexity of the system. They have appealed and won many cases.

The NHS provides Beacon with funding because they see the value in having trained experienced experts. They trust them to do a good job and help support a properly researched case.

The head office is in Oxfordshire where the service originated. It is owned by Age UK but operates independently and nationally.

National Advice Service for NHS England

Beacon runs The National NHS Continuing Healthcare Information and Advice Service. This service provides free expert support for people trying to navigate the CHC system at any point in their journey. Their advice is broken down into two levels.

The first level provides basic information on how to get an assessment underway and start an appeal. It looks at issues around the safe commissioning of care.

The second level provides 90 mins of free more in-depth advice. It is used to go into specific issues in more detail or check through appeal statements. The time is flexible and can be split into several sessions if required.

Although funded by NHS England, Beacon is proudly independent. The advice can be given via phone, email, or video call.

To get started, use the contact form on their website www.beaconchc.co.uk/talk-to-us or call 0345 548 0300.

Free resources

A free Navigational Toolkit is available to download at www.beaconchc.co.uk/how-we-can-help. This essential reference explains the CHC system in detail, how to navigate each stage, and the pitfalls to look out for. It’s written by expert caseworkers and contains four documents: How We Can Help, Guide to Continuing Healthcare Assessments, Guide to Continuing Healthcare Appeals, and Continuing Healthcare Legal Background.

Other services

Beacon also provides paid-for legal casework and representation to individuals. They can support any stage of the CHC process, from initial screening to appeal, Ombudsman, and sometimes beyond. This is kept entirely separate from the National Advice Service. There is no cross-selling; advisors will only refer you to information about their paid-for services if you ask them to.