Annex C: The Grogan Judgment

See also Annex B:    The Coughlan  Judgment

Annex C:          The Grogan Judgment

R v Bexley NHS Care Trust, ex parte Grogan

1.    Maureen  Grogan  had  multiple  sclerosis,  dependent  oedema  with  the  risk  of  ulcers breaking out, was doubly incontinent, a wheelchair user requiring two people for transfer, and  had  some  cognitive  impairment.  After  the  death  of  her  husband,  her  health deteriorated and she had a number of falls. Following admission to hospital with a dislocated shoulder, it was decided that she was unable to live independently and she was transferred direct to a care home that provided nursing care.

2.    Subsequent assessments indicated that (under the then local criteria dated December

2002) Mrs Grogan’s condition was such that she did not qualify for fully funded NHS continuing healthcare. It was initially determined that she was in the medium band of NHS- funded nursing care. By and large, she remained in this band, although one determination placed her in the high band from April to October 2004. Mrs Grogan argued that the decision to deny her full NHS funding was unlawful, since the eligibility criteria put in place by South East London NHS CB were contrary to the judgement in the Coughlan case. She also submitted that the level of nursing needs identified in the Registered Nursing Care Contribution (RNCC) medium and high bandings (in which she had been placed) indicated a primary need for healthcare that should be met by the NHS.

3.    Key relevant points from the Grogan judgement include:

•     In assessing whether Mrs Grogan was entitled to NHS continuing healthcare, the care trust did not have in place – and did not apply –criteria which properly identified the test or approach to be followed in deciding whether her primary need was a health need.

•     The court identified the fact that there can be an overlap, or a gap, between social care and NHS provision, depending on the test, or tests, applied. The court accepted, as had been submitted by the Secretary of State, that the extent of her duties was governed by NHS legislation, not the upper limits of local authority lawful provision, and that therefore there was a potential in law for a gap between what the Secretary of State provided and those ‘health services’ that the local authority could ‘lawfully’ supply.

•     If the policy of the Secretary of State was that there should be no gap, then, when applying the primary health need approach, this should be considered against the limits of social services lawful provision, not just by reference to a ‘primary health need’.

4.  The trust’s decision that Mrs Grogan did not qualify for NHS continuing healthcare was set aside, and the question of her entitlement to NHS continuing healthcare was remitted to the trust for further consideration.

5.  There was no finding, or other indication, that Mrs Grogan in fact met the criteria for NHS continuing healthcare.


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