Joint Committee On Human Rights Eighteenth Report


Summary

In addition to its scrutiny of parliamentary Bills and policy documents for human rights implications, the Committee examines areas where human rights concerns arise, such as the treatment of older persons in health care.

In this Report the Committee examines how human rights principles can be applied to ensure that older people in hospitals and care homes are treated with greater dignity and respect (paragraphs 1 - 8).

The Committee heard that, while some older people receive excellent care, there are concerns about poor treatment, neglect, abuse, discrimination and ill-considered discharge. It considers that an entire culture change is needed. It also recommends legislative changes and a role for the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights (paragraphs 9 - 65).

In the Committee's view there is a significant distinction between a "duty to provide" under care standards legislation and a "right to receive" under human rights legislation. It recommends that the Government and other public bodies should champion understanding of how human rights principles can help transform health and social care services (paragraphs 66 - 95).

While welcoming the recent acceptance at senior levels in the Department of Health of the importance of human rights in healthcare, the Committee recommends adoption of a strategy to make the Human Rights Act integral to policy-making and social care across the Department (paragraphs 96 - 124).

The Committee regrets the failure of the Department of Health and the Ministry of Justice to give proper leadership and guidance to providers of health and residential care on the implications of the Human Rights Act. It recommends measures to strengthen human rights obligations and duties and to bring private and voluntary care homes within the scope of the Human Rights Act (paragraphs 125 - 161).

The Committee recommends improved guidance and standards on human rights compliance in healthcare and that the forthcoming merged inspectorate for health, social care and mental health should adopt a human rights framework for all its work. It also recommends that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence should take clearer account of the Convention rights of any patients affected by its decisions on clinical practice (paragraphs 162 - 198).

The Committee advocates better staff training in human rights principles and their inclusion in health professionals' qualifications as well as a duty to blow the whistle on abuse (paragraphs 199 - 232).

The Committee makes recommendations relating to protection against eviction for care home residents, improved defence of their human rights and more robust complaints procedures. It also recommends promotional work to improve the image of human rights and spread awareness of older people's rights (paragraphs 233 - 288).



 
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Prepared 14 August 2007