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Campaign Underway to Ensure Care Residents Legal Right to Visitors During Lockdowns

A coalition of over 50 organisations is calling on the Government to protect in law the support of family carers across health and care settings.

The joint call has attracted cross-party political support following an event in Parliament on 9 March 2022. Key developments:

  • 60+ MPs wrote to the (then) Secretary of State asking him to take this forward (May 2022)
  • A debate in the House of Commons secured support from across political parties (Oct 2022)
  • The Care Minister is currently exploring the options for how to take this forward

The broad spectrum of organisations has joined forces to say ‘never again’ should people in vulnerable situations be separated from the support of their carers – partners, parents, children, siblings, friends. The organisations represent millions of people relying on health and care services across the country. The joint call also has cross-party support, and in October the Care Minister told Parliament, ‘I do not consider the status quo acceptable, and I am on the case’.

The organisations leading the call were deeply disappointed by the Secretary of State’s comment that he is resistant to setting any ‘national diktats’, despite evidence that some hospitals are ignoring clear directives from NHS England Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard and Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May that carers and visitors should once again be welcomed.

The Relatives & Residents Association, Rights For Residents and John’s Campaign have written to the chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, Steve Brine MP, requesting that he clarify the Government’s position.

Helen Wildbore, director of the Relatives & Residents Association, said, ‘Organisations representing millions of people using services, as well as care providers have joined forces with a simple request: the support of family carers should be protected in law as a basic ingredient of good care. They are looking to the Secretary of State for leadership on protecting the rights of people in the most vulnerable of situations. Tomorrow any one of us could need this protection, including Steve Barclay and his family.’

Julia Jones, co-founder of John’s Campaign, said, ‘This is a chance for the Department of Health and Social Care to get its act together and legislate decisively on behalf of the people for whom it exists – patients, residents and service users – you and me.’

Jenny Morrison, co-founder of Rights for Residents, said ‘Relatives are angry at the failure of the Health Secretary to listen to the voices of their loved ones, many of whom are at the very end of their lives. Time is not on their side. He should act with urgency to end the postcode lottery that allows some in care homes and hospitals to receive vital care from a loved one, while others are denied this lifeline by managers and officials that have become completely risk averse. Giving moral support, reassurance and comfort is a critical factor in maintaining mental health and well-being and this aspect of care can only be provided by a close family member or friend. The evidence is clear, guidance and persuasion have failed, we all need a legal right, to at least one Care Supporter, that can be with us when we are at our most vulnerable.’

Over 60 MPs wrote to the (then) Secretary of State in May last year supporting the call and a cross-party group of MPs are working to take this forward: Liberal Democrat deputy leader, Daisy Cooper, Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, Labour MP Dan Carden, and Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader Liz Saville Roberts.

Campaigners are urging:

  • Write to your MP and ask them to contact the Care Minister to show their support.

Show your support on social media using #CareSupporter