News from BIHR

NEW BIHR Evidence to the JCHR Inquiry – Reports Published 

Throughout July, we were busy gathering evidence through our Communities of Practice platform, surveys and our direct work across the UK. Our policy responses are directly informed by people’s real-life experiences of the issues, drawn from our work to support people to benefit from their human rights in their daily experiences.

To focus our work, we collected evidence from three groups we work with:

  1. People accessing (or trying to access) health and care;
  2. Staff working in health and care during Covid-19; and
  3. Advocates and campaigners

We submitted our evidence to the Inquiry in July. We are now very excited to announce that we have published full reports of this evidence – one report for each group that we work with! We have also produced easy read versions of each of these reports.

You can find out more and read all the reports here.

  

NEW Our Response to the Use of Emergency Powers in Scotland

In June, the first report to the Scottish Parliament on the use of Emergency Powers was published. We, and other organisations, wrote to the Scottish Parliament Equalities and Human Rights Committee to raise our human rights concerns around the use of Emergency Powers in Scotland.

 
On 11 August 2020, the Scottish Government published Coronavirus Acts: second report to Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government implemented some of the changes we called for – for example, the first report did not state which local authorities in Scotland were using the Emergency Powers. This has been addressed in the second report, and the local authorities who were using the Powers during the monitoring period were listed. Although the second report shows that some of the concerns of BIHR and others have been taken on board, there is still much more to be done to ensure that people accessing (or trying to access) care and support in Scotland have their human rights protected, respected and fulfilled.

You can read our Response to the Second Report here, including our call to action.

You can read more about our work on the use of Emergency Powers in Scotland here.

 

Our Human Rights Sessions

Our August has been very busy indeed with lots of human rights sessions, delivered to Local Councils or in partnership with other organisations. We really enjoy delivering human rights sessions as a chance to engage with lots of different groups of people across the country and help them understand more about human rights and what they mean.

This week, we delivered a human rights session to ALLIANCE Scotland and its members to support them to use human rights in conversations about their or their loved ones care and support.

We also delivered a workshop with Right2Home to test a new, co-produced resource which aims to support people who are Autistic and/or have learning disabilities and are in inpatient, residential or supported living settings and their loved ones to know their rights around visiting policies and the right to private and family life (Article 8 of the Human Rights Act). We ran a workshop to test the tool with people whose loved ones are in such settings, and we will be running further testing on the tool. With Covid-19 resulting in blanket ban visiting policies and other concerning practices, we’re pleased to be involved is very important work.

Explainers

Read our latest Explainer! This one is all about judicial review – a really powerful legal tool everyday people have to hold the Government and public bodies to account.  If you’re keen to understand what judicial review is and hear more about the UK Government’s new panel which is reviewing judicial review, then this one’s for you. You can read it here!

We also have a new set of Explainers on the laws on face coverings across the UK. We know it can be confusing understanding where and when you have to where a face covering, and who is exempt – especially when it’s different in all four nations of the UK! Hopefully our Explainers will help – find them all here.

 

News from Elsewhere...

  1. Updated UK Government Guidance on Care Act Easements

The UK Government has published updated guidance on the Care Act easements (‘Care Act easements: guidance for local authorities’). This has updated parts of the original guidance on the easements.

The key updates:

  • Notes the reintroduction of Continuing Healthcare assessments from 1 September 2020, which were deferred between 19 March and 31 August 2020.

  • Notes that from 1 September 2020, new or extended health and care support will be funded for a period of up to 6 weeks, for people being discharged from hospital, or to provide urgent care for those who would otherwise have been admitted to hospital.

  • Introduces reference to advocates.

  • Introduces the Care Act easements notification form and reflect changes to other published guidance.

Department of Health and Social Care, Care Act easements: guidance for local authorities, 1 September 2020

See also: Department of Health and Social Care, Reintroduction of NHS continuing healthcare (NHS CHC): guidance, 21 August 2020

 

  1. Quarter of Covid victims in England and Wales have dementia – study

"People with dementia accounted for a quarter of all Covid-related deaths in England and Wales, and three-quarters of all deaths in care facilities globally, data shows.

The London School of Economics and University College London are looking at the mortality rate of those with dementia in a regularly updated report. According to their research, up to 75% of Covid-19 deaths globally in care facilities are those with dementia as an underlying condition.


The Guardian, 1 September 2020

 

  1. Court ruling sets ‘major precedent’ for rights of foster care workers

"Some foster care workers could be entitled to employment rights for the first time after a landmark legal ruling.

Edinburgh Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that carers Jimmy and Christine Johnstone should have been entitled classified as employees and so were entitled to sick pay, holiday pay, a guaranteed minimum wage and protections for whistleblowing.

After a long-running legal battle with Glasgow City Council, which began when the Johnstones raised serious safety concerns about a young person a number of years ago, a judge ruled that the couple’s arrangement to carry out care work amounted to a contract of employment."

The Independent, 1 September 2020

 

  1. Triple threat to justice system in England and Wales, lawyers warn

"The criminal justice system in England and Wales is facing the triple threat of a shortage of defence lawyers, financial shock as furlough assistance from the government ends and the mass postponement of trials due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With judges postponing trials as far ahead as 2022 and some refusing to remand suspects in custody when time limits are repeatedly breached, pressure is mounting on the Ministry of Justice to open more emergency courtrooms that will operate safely during the crisis."

The Guardian, 31 August 2020

 

 

  1. Coronavirus: Charity seeks judicial review on care home visit guidance

“A dementia charity is seeking a judicial review of the government guidance on care home visits.

John's Campaign says many care homes in England are still refusing regular face-to-face visits, often essential for people with severe dementia.

Dr Angela McIntyre, a retired doctor backing the campaign, has not seen her 92-year-old mother since March.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "We know limiting visits in care homes has been difficult for many families."

He added: "Our first priority is to prevent infections in care homes, and this means that visiting policy should still be restricted with alternatives sought wherever possible.”

BBC News, 3 September 2020


  1. Hostile environment has fostered racism and caused poverty, report finds

“The “hostile environment” policy has fostered racism, pushed people into destitution and wrongly targeted people who are living in the UK legally, a study has concluded.

The measures formally introduced by Theresa May while she was home secretary have also failed to achieve their key objective of increasing the numbers of people choosing voluntarily to leave the UK, according to the report published by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).”

The Guardian, 3 September 2020

 

  1. Nearly 500,000 'vulnerable' Scots removed from database

“The records of nearly 500,000 people have been deleted from a Police Scotland database designed to protect vulnerable people, new figures show.

The list allows officers attending incidents to add people who they consider to be at risk of future harm.

But three years ago the force fell foul of the Information Commissioner who said there needed to be a policy for removing people from the database.

It has now emerged that weeding process saw 494,039 records removed.

Concerns about the Vulnerable Person Database (VPD) included some people not being told that they had been put on the system.”

BBC News (Scotland), 3 September 2020