FHDC still paying NowMedical for reports after lockdown begun
At the begining of March we brought you the story about – How a doctor who has never seen you can say you’re fit enough to sleep on the streets of Kent.
In short NowMedical write reports assess whether someone is medically vulnerable enough to be considered “priority need” for housing support without even seeing the client.
Judges have warned councils against relying on the firm’s advice and overturned decisions determined by its assessments, calling them “irrational” and “tainted” and criticising the firm for not taking the time to meet or speak to those they are assessing.
Since we reported on this matter at the beginning of March, Folkestone & Hythe District Council have published both February’s and March’s payment to suppliers data. The data reveals in Feb 2020, FHDC paid NowMedical £378 on the 11th Feb and a further £606 on 26th March, three days after lockdown begun.
Since July 2018, FHDC have paid NowMedical a total of £7,434 for an estimated 186 reports and the doctors producing the reports have not seen or spoken to the client who presented to FHDC as homeless.
Nicholas Nicol, a barrister who has successfully challenged council decisions based on NowMedical assessments said:
“In my opinion, they are delivering, in the broadest terms, the advice that their customers want to hear,”
Read into that what you may.
Now if a client seeking housing is refused, yet has children, they are able to approach Kent County Council under s17 of the Children Act 1989.
The Criteria for s17 financial assistance are:
The payment must be to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child;
An allocated worker should be actively involved with the family at least for the duration of the payments and if the financial assistance is more than one off emergency assistance, this must be assessed as part of an assessment or through the review of a child’s plan.
Kent County Council have stated they do not keep data by applicants for funds from each district. But they do say between 1st April 2017 and the 25th March 2020 they have housed 70 children under the financial assistance rules in s17 of the Children Act 1989, and their family
In that time it has cost KCC in excess of £750,000 to house these 70 children and their families.
It is not known yet if any these families with children were turned down for housing because of a NowMedical report.
On Dec 3rd 2019, Shelter in their Generation Homeless press release stated:
A staggering 135,000 children in Britain are homeless, living in temporary accommodation, according to a report launched today by Shelter – which is the highest number in 12 years.
Excellent reporting on this sorry saga. Keep up the good work