The government has been criticised for opposing the extension of liability under the Human Rights Act 1998 to all regulated care providers in England. Currently public bodies and care homes are only bound by the Human Rights Act in respect of placements arranged by councils or the NHS. Self-funded individuals lack protection from the Human Rights Act.
Care Minister, Norman Lamb, has tabled an amendment to the Care Bill to remove Clause 48. The clause worked to make all providers registered with CQC open to challenge under the Human Rights Act and was initially included in the Care Bill to address the lack of protection of self-funded care home residents and those using non-residential services. The amendment has not yet been passed but is likely to be approved following scrutiny by a committee of MPs.
Age UK has launched an online petition against the amendment. Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said she was “disappointed and surprised” to see this proposal adding that “under the current system, two older people in the same care home can receive very different levels of protection under the Human Rights Act based solely on how their care has been arranged and paid for. This is not only fundamentally wrong, it means that if an older person who pays for their care is abused or suffers from neglect and poor care they have less legal redress than someone in the same unfortunate position whose care is funded by the state.”
In contrast, a Department of Health spokesperson said “What people and their loved ones want and need is reassurance that they will be treated with compassion and kindness when using care services. To achieve this we need to concentrate on preventing harm, abuse and neglect from happening in the first place. Extending the Human Rights Act in this way would not make people or providers treat those they care for with any more dignity and respect than they should. People with private care will still have rights and protections under current law.”