Family fight for NHS to fund war veteran’s care

Flt Sgt Goerge Spencer 1944
Flt Sgt Goerge Spencer 1944
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THE family of a frail 89-year-old war veteran have spoken out against NHS Suffolk’s refusal to fund his ongoing care.

On Monday last week, former air gunner George Spencer’s son Stephen drove from his home in South Street, Risby, to collect his 85-year-old mother Ethel from her south London home to bring her to Suffolk to make another appeal to the NHS Suffolk Multidisciplinary Continuing Care Panel .

George Spencer with granddaughter Isobel Spencer Christmas 2009

George Spencer with granddaughter Isobel Spencer Christmas 2009

Stephen said: “I don’t hold out much hope. The system seems to be designed to stop people getting help. He never seems to quite tick all the boxes.”

George had a stroke seven years ago and attempts to find a place in a home in London failed but Risby Park Nursing Home, near Stephen’s home, took him.

The family are happy with the care he has received there. But even though they have taken legal advice, they have been unable to get the NHS to agree to fund that care.

“Over seven years it has cost my mother about £200,000,” Stephen said the day after their latest meeting. “They were saying they think he has medium needs. He doesn’t know who he is, where he is or who I am. He’s a poor little skeleton who sits up in a chair.”

In his youth George served on RAF convoy patrol Sunderlands and the family has just given the Flyingboat Associaion his medals. Stephen said: “Here’s someone who stood up for his country. Now the country doesn’t want to help him.”

Stephen says his parents still have a small house in Poole they intended to retire to, which will probably be sold. “It seems that if you spend all your money, they have to look after you,” he said.

But Suffolk NHS said income and assets were not part of continuing care decisions. The trust does not discuss individual cases but a spokesman said: “There are national criteria to determine a person’s eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare. NHS Continuing Healthcare is not given due to a person having a particular disease or diagnosis; it is given where their overall needs are primarily health related.”