NHS continuing healthcare

What is NHS continuing healthcare?

NHS continuing healthcare is the name given to a package of care that is arranged and funded solely by the NHS for individuals outside of hospital who have ongoing healthcare needs.

Who is eligible for NHS continuing healthcare?

Anyone assessed as having a certain level of care needs may receive NHS continuing healthcare. It is not dependent on a particular disease, diagnosis or condition, nor on who provides the care or where that care is provided.

If your overall care needs show that your primary need is a health need, you should be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare.

What happens?

A continuing healthcare assessment will be carried out jointly by a health professional such as a nurse and a social worker from the council. The views of other professionals such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists and doctors who have been involved in your care will also be taken into account to ensure that the assessment gives a full picture of your situation.

The assessment looks at all your care needs and relates them to four factors:

  • nature - this is how your particular needs affect you, including the type of help you need
  • complexity - this is about how your health needs affect each other and the level of skill required to manage them
  • intensity - this is the extent and severity of your needs and the support needed to meet them
  • unpredictability - this is about how hard it is to predict changes in your needs that might create challenges in managing them

Eligibility criteria for continuing healthcare is defined by NHS England. 

The assessment will vary depending on the type of care you have been referred for. It will take place at a time and location agreed with you, and you can have family and/or other representatives with you if you wish.

​After your assessment

You will be notified in writing of the outcome of your assessment. If you are not eligible, the reasons will be explained in the letter. ​

You will also be given details of how to appeal if you feel the decision is wrong. The professional who referred you will also be informed of the outcome of your asses​sment.


Reviews will take place to see if your needs are the same or have changed, and to check that the placement is meeting your needs. The placements officer will tell you when a review is due.

It is important that you understand the process and the reasons for any decisions made. If you do not, please contact the Placements Team, who can help explain these more clearly to you.

Personal health budgets

If you are eligible for continuing healthcare, you will be offered a personal health budget. This will give you more control over how to spend the funding to best meet your needs and achieve your health goals. It is your choice whether you want a personal health budget. You will receive more information and details at this stage to help you make the decision.

If you are eligible for a personal health budget and choose this option, you will be helped to develop your healthcare support plan to be paid for by the budget allocated to you. This will allow you to control the nature and the timing of your care, and when you want it to start.

If you are not eligible for a personal health budget or choose not to have one, your healthcare needs will be managed on your behalf. The time this takes to implement can vary depending on the nature of the care, but you will be kept informed at all stages.

​Further information

To find out more about NHS continuing healthcare call 020 8687 4802 or visit the NHS Choices website.​

NHS England has information on Personal Health Budgets