An open letter in reply to Rear Admiral Philip Mathias

THANK you for your letter to me which was published in last week’s Salisbury Journal. We have indeed communicated extensively regarding Continuing Healthcare (CHC) and the approach taken to funding by Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). I agree with you that it is disappointing that Wiltshire has historically been below the national average on funding CHC, and salute you on your successful campaign to secure £200,000 of retrospective funding from the CCG for your mother.

I take these issues very seriously and following your correspondence I have been in contact with the CCG regarding these issues. People who are Salisbury constituents also contact me regarding these matters, although this is often on a confidential basis - not for publication in the media.

This area of public policy is extremely complex. For issues relating to mental health and dementia in elderly people, an assessment has to be made on where to draw the line between what is a clinical need that the NHS should cover and what is a more general living expense issue that the state should not be liable for. In the situation of your mother, errors were made in this process and assessment and your campaign has already rectified this matter.

However, your extrapolation from the deficiencies in your personal example to a wider accusation of unlawful activity on behalf of the CCG is on less firm ground. An external review of Wiltshire CCG on this issue produced an improvement plan and concrete steps to tighten processes, but concluded – contrary to what you allege – that there had been no fundamental breach of the national framework.

I am in regular contact with the CCG to monitor the current situation and will be continuing to do so to check progress against national averages. I know that the NHS is a policy area that many constituents pay close attention to, so I also meet regularly with the chief executive of Salisbury District Hospital, GPs, and other health professionals to make sure that the government is doing everything possible to ensure the quality of local healthcare provision.


MP for Salisbury