Guidance that some have called “dangerous and discriminatory” has been published by NHS England.
It bars visitors, but allows exceptions for end-of-life care, a parent of a child, a birthing partner, or where the visitor will be contributing to meeting a person’s mental health needs. This is the one: https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/visitor-guidance/
This means disabled people who have other needs, including physical needs and communication needs, cannot be accompanied to hospital by someone trained to meet those needs. This is resulting in delayed emergency admissions, wasted outpatient appointments, and huge risks to both patients and medical staff.
In response to letters outlining the legal issues, sent on behalf of Fleur Perry and Mark Williams, NHS England have agreed to change it. Read more via Disability News Service: https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/coronavirus-success-for-disabled-duo-after-nhs-england-backs-down-on-visitor-policy/?fbclid=IwAR2oAQHOS1HZxSOsQBrfoBBJiWjEs93iFTnjx7vZ8wTSQjg52HXf79Vw-gU
They also said (in correspondence to Fleur and Fry Law) that the “existing guidance is not intended to, and does not in fact, prevent providers from complying with their legal duties under the Equality Act 2010” and that “In preparing the guidance lawful decision-making procedures will be followed and input invited from key stakeholders.”
What to do if this affects you?
Know your rights: Having someone who knows how to meet your needs accompany you to hospital may be considered a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010.
Be proactive: Ring ahead of time and don’t ask them, tell them. “I need … Your staff have not been trained in my individual needs, and so “name” will be accompanying me to meet those needs.”
Ask them to focus on solutions: Ask them if they have staff available with experience in meeting the needs you have, and to explain point by point how they plan to ensure your safety.
Take it further: Contact the hospital’s management. Contact your CCG. Contact your hospital’s safeguarding lead. Contact your local DPO. Contact a lawyer.
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