NHS u-turns on discriminatory policies

Published: 31 May 2018

Thirteen NHS organisations have agreed to review their NHS Continuing Healthcare policies following the threat of legal action by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The u-turn resolves almost eight months of disagreements between the Commission and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across the UK, over their unlawful NHS Continuing Healthcare (NHS CHC) policies.

In March 2018, we threatened to judicially review 13 CCGs over concerns about their blanket NHS CHC policies, which placed arbitrary caps on funding and failed to consider the specific needs of individual patients. This amounted to a serious breach of the Human Rights Act, the Public Sector Equality Duty and the Department of Health and Social Care’s own NHS CHC framework.

The CCGs have since demonstrated that they are in the process of revising their policies, meaning further legal action is not necessary at this time. 

We have asked to see the revised policies to ensure they are lawful and adequately consider equality and human rights implications for their patients.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

'Everyone has the right to live their lives to an adequate standard and to have access to good quality health care.

'Those who need help are individual human beings with individual circumstances which need to be taken into account.

'We said that it is unacceptable and de-humanising for CCGs to adopt a blanket approach in forcing people into residential care, especially when with the right support they would be able to live at home with the families who love them.

'We are really pleased with the result and we know that all those affected will be reassured to see CCGs putting the rights of patients at the heart of their decision-making processes. We will continue to work with CCGs to ensure that future policies do not make the same mistakes.'

We first voiced concerns over the policies in October 2017, when we wrote to 43 CCGs demanding more information.

Of the 43 CCGs contacted, all but one have now replied and most are reviewing their policies or following the NHS CHC Framework.

Haringey CCG is the only organisation that has failed to share its policies with us. It was not one of the 13 that originally faced judicial review, but the lack of engagement now leaves Haringey open to further action.

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