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Abandoning the vulnerable?

(41 Posts)
Luckyoldbeethoven Sun 06-Sep-20 07:48:32

There seem to be some very knowledgeable people on GN and I feel very troubled by a recent article setting out an Act that seems to have been passed with little comment removing the onus on local authorities to take responsibility for vulnerable people and support their care. Has anyone else seen this or is able to comment on whether it is as serious a step as it appears.

bylinetimes.com/2020/09/04/coronavirus-and-brexit-abandoning-the-vulnerable/

Illte Sun 06-Sep-20 08:46:23

If you are very troubled, can I suggest that you read the Act itself and make you own judgement, instead of relying on journalistic articles and headlines.

I always think its wise to study facts before posting headlines that might worry people.

Illte Sun 06-Sep-20 08:47:35

Or even relying on Gransnet😬

growstuff Sun 06-Sep-20 09:04:53

The Coronavirus Act, passed in March 2020, contained some very concerning clauses. At the time, the country was in a panic and it seemed like it was the kind of emergency legislation needed to put the country on a "wartime" footing. Theoretically, there could be martial law, but I think we Brits never thought that it would come to that.

That was six months ago and I don't think many of us believed what kind of havoc would be wreaked by incompetence, cronyism and corruption.

Children and adults with special needs or vulnerabilities are particularly at risk from the Act.

There are two especially disturbing features:

1 Local authorities have been relieved of their responsibilities with regard to the education of children with special needs, which us why school places for them are not available during the pandemic.

2 Vulnerable patients can be discharged from hospital without a suitable care package in place. The aim was to stop "bed blocking" for acute patients, but has meant that some vulnerable people have been left with absolutely no support in the community.

It is as serious as it appears. The Act is intended to last two years with the option to extend. We need to be very careful that it doesn't become the "new normal".

I haven't been personally affected, but those who are, need to lobby their MPs. Various disability rights groups are aware and will do what they can, but they need support. Hopefully, the media will support them

growstuff Sun 06-Sep-20 09:05:35

Illte

If you are very troubled, can I suggest that you read the Act itself and make you own judgement, instead of relying on journalistic articles and headlines.

I always think its wise to study facts before posting headlines that might worry people.

I did read the Act when it was passed and have just read it again.

growstuff Sun 06-Sep-20 09:11:04

The Act is due for Parliamentary review in a couple of weeks, but it will probably be rubber-stamped. People with direct experience need to write to their MP now.

Illte Sun 06-Sep-20 09:14:07

Yes, I've just had a brief dip into it, following the original post. Obviously it's quite complex so I just concentrated on a couple of provisions.

I think workers in the field of Social responsibility needed reassurance that they would not be subsequentlybe prosecuted if the effects of the virus meant they could not carry out their statutory duties.

Modification and repeal will be needed.

I still think journalists need to stick to facts. And I still think posters should at least make an attempt to inform themselves.

growstuff Sun 06-Sep-20 09:35:54

Well, this poster (me) has made an attempt to inform herself.

I do know that some parents of special needs children have found that school places aren't re-opening and that TA support is no longer available in mainstream schools. Local authorities have been relieved of their statutory responsibility to ensure that special needs children are educated, so provision is patchy.

I have also heard, anecdotally, of cases where people with no social support have been discharged from hospital. In this area, there's quite a pro-active voluntary group which has been picking up some of the pieces. However, it can't provide for all the needs of people who are bedridden and can't wash and feed themselves. It's actually been an issue for a long time, but at least there used to be the "back stop" that people were kept in hospital, until a care package was organised.

growstuff Sun 06-Sep-20 09:37:22

Where's the pressure for modification and repeal?

Unless articles such as thus one are written, it will be one of those things which slips under the radar.

Illte Sun 06-Sep-20 09:58:34

Yes, you're always well informed growstuff.

IMO when everything is reduced to the sensational and often inaccurate, that's when the important stuff gets lost in the morass.

It is important that the provisions of the Act are reviewed. Some can be modified, some still needs to stand. We're not at the end of the pandemic yet.

If we want to apply pressure it's vital to apply it to what is true, not what has been made up or exaggerated. A week or do ago people were calling for an enquiry into something that simply didn't happen, based on a sensational and misleading headline!
Who's going to pay attention when they protest about something real. The boy who called wolf?

The pressure for the review of the Act should be coming from the Opposition in Parliament, who should be knowledgeable, accurately informed and able to make a difference. Else what are they for?

Greeneyedgirl Sun 06-Sep-20 10:04:59

I also think this is very concerning, and thank you Lucky for drawing to our attention. I was aware of this Act but have not heard much general concern about it because possibly, unless you are involved with one of the vulnerable groups, or are in one yourself, you may not even know about it.
More resources need to be available to LA, not absolving them from duty of care, in these difficult times, if we hope to care for the vulnerable in the way that a responsible society should.
I do not trust this government, going by its track record to date, that modification and repeal will happen.

growstuff Sun 06-Sep-20 10:10:32

Pressure doesn't always work like that. With their current parliamentary majority, the Conservatives can do, more or less, what they want. The numbers aren't there to vote against them and we've seen that the party stamps down hard on anybody who dissents.

That's where democracy falls down. Minorities are not protected.

The pressure has to come from thinking that they will lose votes in the next election (some local elections are due next year) and from the media. If the Daily Mail and Telegraph were to headline the experiences of some special needs children and vulnerable people discharged from hospital, the government would almost certainly change its tune. A Panorama documentary would help, but the BBC is already under threat, so might not be brave enough.

People who do care need to be careful that they're not just stamping their feet in a bubble of like-minded people.

lemongrove Sun 06-Sep-20 10:18:54

Excellent posts Illte
We realised that the virus would affect everything in the field of social responsibility, particularly in the area of special needs children ( our grandson) and that things couldn’t be as before.The family have all pitched in to help when they can, as he has had no schooling or SS input ( as he usually does)
For six months.It’s been hard but the pandemic has affected everything and everyone the world over.

Illte Sun 06-Sep-20 10:19:51

It doesn't just have to be in Parliament though, does it? Opposition MPs should be on the case, bringing these matters to the fire in an informed way. All through this pandemic they've been conspicuous by their absence of - well anything😬 That's my vote lost.

The media has lost credibility too. As I said above (I think) there's been so much sensationalism that a lot of people don't even watch or listen to stuff any more. It's all lost its impact.

Illte Sun 06-Sep-20 10:20:28

fire =fore

lemongrove Sun 06-Sep-20 10:20:33

Forgot to add, these ‘Acts’ can be repealed or changed to suit.

Hetty58 Sun 06-Sep-20 10:26:55

I can't help thinking that emergency legislation, due to Coronavirus, provided an ideal, convenient excuse for government to limit or abandon it's responsibilities to the most vulnerable.

I'd predict that there will be great reluctance to reinstate things to where we were before.

Illte Sun 06-Sep-20 10:33:34

Or you could say it provided a measure of protection for workers who were unable to carry out their statutory duties and could otherwise have been prosecuted.

Let's have your ideas for what should have been done instead, other than a temporary Act.

GillT57 Sun 06-Sep-20 13:32:32

Sadly, it would appear that emergency legislation brought in due to the pandemic is in danger of being abused. I have no issue with the legislation as I understand that this was unknown territory ( apart from the Cygnet report, but let's forget that for the moment), but I am very uncomfortable with any rubber stamping and continuation without checks and balances. We have already seen much evidence of contracts being awarded to companies unable to fulfil the brief, and without any due diligence, and generally buddies or party donors. I would hope that children with SEN would be back at school or within the care of LA supervision as soon as the implications of main stream schools returning is known.

growstuff Sun 06-Sep-20 14:06:55

lemongrove

Forgot to add, these ‘Acts’ can be repealed or changed to suit.

Yes, they can and the Coronavirus Act is due to be reviewed every six months, but how many people even know about it? The Conservatives' majority means that almost nothing can be done in Parliament. Unless there's public pressure, it will just be waved through, as much procedure in Parliament is.

The only reason the Conservatives will want to change it is if they think that it's unpopular with their own constituents. That's how politics works.

If people have been affected, they need to make their voices heard. If they don't or can't be bothered, the Act will continue in its present form.

growstuff Sun 06-Sep-20 14:13:41

Hetty58

I can't help thinking that emergency legislation, due to Coronavirus, provided an ideal, convenient excuse for government to limit or abandon it's responsibilities to the most vulnerable.

I'd predict that there will be great reluctance to reinstate things to where we were before.

I agree with you Hetty. I remember saying to somebody when this all started that it would show up the gaping holes in local government provision. Local government has been starved of funds for years and services have been slashed.

I have personal experience of being discharged from hospital after a heart attack without any social support and I was shocked that nothing was available. When the pandemic started, the first thing I did was to make sure that people had my front door key and I had a list of phone numbers of people who could help me, if necessary. It sounds dramatic, but I seriously could be one of those people who dies and nobody knows for weeks. It was frightening.

The fact that there is no longer a statutory requirement to support the most vulnerable cause me a great deal of concern.

Whitewavemark2 Sun 06-Sep-20 14:14:21

I had no idea that the LA’s have been relieved of the responsibility for special needs children.

So is it now the government? D of E ?

Can a parental group sue for failing to provide education?

lemongrove Sun 06-Sep-20 14:16:20

Gill Children with SEN are back at school now (thankfully)
In my county.😀

Starblaze Sun 06-Sep-20 14:21:51

I am seeing this happening and am aware of situations where children for example are unable to return to mainstream education being clinically vulnerable and their parents unable to return to jobs with absolutely no means of support.

growstuff Sun 06-Sep-20 14:22:50

Illte

Or you could say it provided a measure of protection for workers who were unable to carry out their statutory duties and could otherwise have been prosecuted.

Let's have your ideas for what should have been done instead, other than a temporary Act.

I don't have a problem wit a temporary Act. In March, nobody really knew what the future would hold. Regarding children with special needs, it is one of the few responsibilities which local authorities retained (alongside school transport). Once a child has a statement, the authority is obliged to provide the resources and can be sued if it doesn't. I understand that the statutory responsibility need a temporary lifting, to prevent court cases. Some local authorities, by the way, have continued to do more than they are required to do.

Nevertheless, when the time for a review comes (in a couple of weeks), it needs proper discussion, not rubber stamping.