Fleur Perry, disabled journalist and campaigner, has been fighting since April of this year to change NHS hospital visitors policy which discriminates against disabled people.
“We all have an equal right to life and an equal right to safe hospital treatment. Right now, some disabled people are having to fight for those basic rights.
One of the drivers of these critical situations is a policy by NHS England, which 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: C0030_Visitor-Guidance_8-April-2020
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.
Thousands of disabled people employ PAs or other care and support staff to assist with personal care and day-to-day needs, and many also rely on family. Removing access to these essential people is not only unsafe and wastes time and money but may be unlawful under the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act.
When I asked disabled people to share their views on this policy, dozens of you joined in to get the NHS England visitor guidance changed (special thanks to Mark Williams, BRIL, DPAC, Fry Law, the Not Dead Yet campaign and various Facebook groups).”
However, since then Fleur has heard this month of four hospitals still unlawfully refusing PAs, carers, and care/support workers of disabled people.
As she says: “Realistically, it’s not going to be just those four; there will be others.”
So, Fleur has contacted NHS England once again to ask them how they communicated the updated guidance to hospitals and let them know that it’s not being followed.
She added: “Somehow, I don’t trust that NHS England are going to get every hospital into line as quickly as is needed. Leaving it up to them isn’t the only way forward.”
So she needs your help again. There are almost 500 hospitals in England alone. If she rang every single one, this would take her over three weeks (that’s if they don’t argue. Adding in arguing, it could take her three months!)
So, all it takes is for us all to check the visitors policy of our nearest hospital and send a quick email if it’s not in line with current guidance. Fleur has made a template you could use.
Thanks everyone! And feel free to name and shame hospitals ignoring guidance on twitter! Or praise those who listen and make a change! Tag Fleur in please @ perry_fleur