When the NHS can pay for ongoing care

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

If you have a serious physical or mental health condition and you need ongoing care, the NHS might be responsible for providing it free of charge.

This is known as Hospital Based Complex Clinical Care, and will be in a hospital setting.

You can find information about Hospital Based Complex Clinical Care on the Care Information Scotland website.

If you get NHS continuing healthcare

Before 1 June 2015, the arrangements were known as NHS continuing healthcare, with different eligibility. If you got NHS continuing healthcare before 1 June 2015, you will continue to get it.

The existing arrangements will remain the same as long as you continue to be eligible. 

Being assessed for Hospital Based Complex Clinical Care

You will be assessed to check if you can get Hospital Based Complex Clinical Care (HBCC).

The assessment is based on one eligibility question: 'Can the individual's care needs be properly met in any setting other than a hospital?'

You will have a full assessment to decide where the best place to have your clinical healthcare needs met is. The assessment will be carried out in hospital by a specialist and a multi-disciplinary team. They should take into account:

  • your views and wishes

  • your family or carer's views and wishes.

All options should be considered, and the decision will be explained to you and your family and/or carer. 

If your healthcare needs can only be met in an NHS hospital, you will stay in hospital and receive HBCCC. Your entire care will be funded by the NHS.

If you’re discharged from hospital

If your care needs can be properly met outside hospital you will be discharged to:

  • your home

  • a care home

  • other supported accommodation.

Before you leave hospital, the multi-disciplinary team will assess you and you'll get a care plan for:

  • any ongoing health and community care needs you have

  • specialist care and support in the community if you need it.

The NHS is responsible for meeting your medical needs after you leave hospital. However, your local council’s charging policies will apply and you might have to pay towards the cost of your care and accommodation, if appropriate.

The local council will carry out a financial assessment to work out how much you need to pay towards care and accommodation costs.

You can find out more about financial assessments on Care Information Scotland’s website.

End-of-life care

Your care is free if you’re getting end-of-life care in:

  • a hospice

  • hospital

  • in your own home.

If you get end-of-life care in a care home then you might have to contribute towards the cost of your non-medical care and accommodation, if appropriate.

End-of-life care is also called palliative care. Find out more about palliative care on the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care’s website.

If you cannot get Hospital Based Complex Clinical Care

When you are told about the decision after your assessment, you should also be told:

  • how to appeal a decision to discharge from hospital

  • about the NHS complaints procedure.

Find out more about the NHS complaints procedure.

If you are not eligible for Hospital Based Complex Clinical Care, the NHS still has a responsibility to provide your medical care free of charge.

You can get more information, advice and support from the Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS). PASS is part of the Scottish Citizens Advice Bureau service and can be accessed from any Citizens Advice Bureau in Scotland.

You can call PASS for advice and support on 0800 917 2127. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. You can find more information about PASS on the Patient Advice and Support Service website.