Call for amendment to Health & Social Care Bill
The Scottish Human Rights Commission has today called for an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill which would clarify the law around the Human Rights Act and publicly funded home care and healthcare services.
The Health and Social Care Act 2008 clarified that the Human Rights Act extends to publicly funded residential care services. However legal uncertainty has persisted as to the application of the Human Rights Act to home care or private healthcare services. Essentially the law is unclear as to whether private providers fall under the scope of the Act.
Together with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and a number of civil society organisations, the Scottish Human Rights Commission is supporting an amendment to the current Health and Social Care Bill which has been tabled at the House of Lords. This would clarify that private providers providing publicly funded care do in fact fall under the scope of the Human Rights Act, giving reassurance to people using cares services, that their human rights are protected.
Read the EHRC briefing on the Health and Social Care Bill in Word format, supported by the Commission.
Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said: “Sometimes people can be vulnerable when receiving care services in their own homes or in residential settings, although thankfully situations of abuse are rare. They absolutely deserve the full protection of the law under the Human Rights Act, and at the moment when it comes to services delivered by private companies the law is unclear.
“We are pleased to join with our sister commissions in the UK and a number of campaigning bodies today in calling for the Health and Social Care Bill to be amended to ensure that this uncertainty comes to an end.
“The Human Rights Act should be a valuable shield, as well as a catalyst for service improvement and innovation, in ensuring that dignity is protected whether services are delivered by a public body or a privately contracted company.”
The Report Stage of the Health and Social Care Bill in the House of Lords begins on 27 February, with Baroness Greengross tabling the amendment. Should the amendment be passed a Legislative Consent Motion will be sought in Scotland, and the Scottish Human Rights Commission has written to the Scottish Government and the Convenor of the Health and Sport Committee Duncan McNeil MSP to highlight the importance of the amendment.
The briefing on the Health and Social Care Bill produced by the Equality and Human Right Commission is also supported by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, AgeUK, the British Institute of Human Rights, Disability Rights UK, the Equality and Diversity Forum, Justice and Mencap.
Notes to Editors
- There are three national human rights institutions in the UK – the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
- The Health and Social Care Bill is currently at the Report stage in the House of Lords. The wording of the amendment as tabled by Baroness Greengross is here:
After Clause 147
Insert the following new Clause:
“Human Rights Act 1988: provision of certain personal care and health care services to be public function
- A person who is commissioned to provide:
- personal care to an individual living in their own home, or
- a health care service, shall be taken to be exercising a function of a public nature in providing such a service.
- In subsection (1)(a) “personal care” in relation to England has the same meaning as in paragraph 2 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2010 and in relation to Scotland has the same meaning as “personal care and personal support” as defined in section 2(28) of the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001 and section 1(1)(c) and Schedule 1 to the Community Care and Health (Scotland) Act 2001.
- In subsection (1)(a) and (b) “functions of a public nature” has the same meaning as in section 6(3) of the Human Rights Act 1998 (acts of public authorities).”