The Care Bill and NGO responses and briefings

On 10 March 2014, the Care Bill had the first day of its Report Stage in the House of Commons where MPs voted against Clause 11 (ensuring protection under the Human Rights Act) by 280 votes to 208.

In October 2013, the House of Lords passed an amendment to the Care Bill clarifying that the Human Rights Act protects people receiving care services.

Emma Hutton, EDF’s Human Rights Programme Director, published a blog in response on the Huffington Post website.

Background information

The Care Bill published on 10 May 2013 takes forward elements of the government’s initial response to the Francis Inquiry.

The Bill is split into 3 parts covering: Reform of care and support; Response to the Francis Inquiry on failings at Mid-Staffordshire Hospital; Health Education England and the Health Research Authority.

Reform of care and support

The Bill brings together existing care and support legislation into a new, modern set of laws and builds the system around people’s wellbeing, needs and goals.

It sets out new rights for carers, emphasises the need to prevent and reduce care and support needs, and introduces a national eligibility threshold for care and support.

It introduces a cap on the costs that people will have to pay for care and sets out a universal deferred payment scheme so that people will not have to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for residential care.

Response to the Francis Inquiry on failings at Mid-Staffordshire Hospital

The Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry led by Robert Francis QC, identified failures across the health and care system that must never happen again. This Bill helps deliver the Government’s commitment to ensure patients are the first and foremost consideration of the system and everyone who works in it.

It sets out Ofsted-style ratings for hospitals and care homes so that patients and the public can compare organisations or services in a fair and balanced way and make informed choices about where to go.

It will enable the new Chief Inspector of Hospitals, appointed by the Care Quality Commission , to trigger a process to deal with unresolved problems with the quality of care more effectively.

It will also make it a criminal offence for health and care providers to supply or publish false or misleading information.

Health Education England and the Health Research Authority

The Bill establishes Health Education England (HEE) and the Health Research Authority (HRA) as statutory non-departmental public bodies, giving them the impartiality and stability they need to carry out their roles in improving education and training for healthcare professionals, and protecting the interests of people in health and social care research.

The Government has published a series of factsheets and impact assessments on the Bill.

A House of Commons Report Stage briefing by NGOs including the Equality and Diversity Forum says:

‘The Care Bill makes important provisions to improve safeguarding procedures for people receiving social care services. However as the law stands, the fundamental protection and access to individual redress offered by the Human Rights Act is not applied equally in all care settings. The Care Bill does not remedy this anomaly and may make the situation worse. People who use care services should have their human rights protected to the fullest extent and the Care Bill provides an opportunity to ensure this through New Clause 11.’

In January 2014, Age UK launched a petition calling for all older people to have equal protection under human rights law when they receive care services.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s briefings on the Bill are available on the Commission’s website.