Protecting the right of disabled people to stay in their own home (2)

Case name: EHRC v a Clinical Commissioning Group

NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are responsible for planning and commissioning healthcare in their local areas. This CCG had a policy which limited spending on continuing healthcare. It meant that disabled people with ongoing health needs risked being moved from their homes into residential care against their wishes. We believe this breached human rights laws and began legal proceedings against the CCG.

Legal issue

Is the Clinical Commissioning Group’s policy on restricting the cost of continuing health care lawful?

Background

NHS continuing healthcare policies in operation at a Clinical Commissioning Group had capped the amount of money available for continuing healthcare. It risked disabled people with substantial ongoing health needs being moved from their homes into residential care against their wishes. We believe this would breach their rights under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act – the right to personal and family life – as well as the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We also think it breaks equality laws. We wrote to the CCG advising that we were beginning Judicial Review proceedings that would challenge their continuing healthcare policies.

Why we were involved

It is our duty to uphold the Human Rights Act and we were concerned that this CCG had put costs above the human rights of disabled people. Our aim in beginning a Judicial Review was to make sure the discriminatory policy was changed and that in future the CCG would be mindful of the need to ensure cost-cutting doesn’t lead to human rights breaches.

What we did

We wrote to the CCG advising them we were beginning Judicial Review proceedings. We began work with the CCG in November 2019 and, as with other CCGs, initially worked towards reaching an agreement without formal legal action. Having exhausted all avenues, we formally began legal proceedings.

What happened

After legal proceedings had begun, the CCG agreed to review their continuing healthcare policy. This was due to start during the summer of 2019. We will work with the CCG to make sure that their revised policy is lawful.

Who will benefit and how

The action we took has protected the rights of disabled people with significant ongoing healthcare issues. This group of people will be better protected from moves that they don’t want. We also know that thanks to the publicity surrounding our action, CCGs and other public bodies involved in care will in future give more consideration to human rights and equality laws when designing policies.

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