In response to a House of Commons Debate on the “right to maintain contact in care settings” Care Minister, Helen Whately met with Jenny and Diane from Rights for Residents, Helen from the R&RA and Julia from John’s Campaign.
The Ministers closing comments during the debate gave campaigners new hope that firm action will now be taken to give those in health and care settings legal rights to receive visitors. Helen Whately concluded by saying:
“there is clearly still a problem. I have also seen the data from the Rights For Residents survey showing that 45% of responses said that restrictions on visiting had still been in place since April, and in 11% of outbreaks no visitors were allowed at all. Again, I am concerned to see that” … I have commissioned work on what I can do to sort this out. I assure all hon. Members on the Chamber and all those listening to the debate that I do not consider the status quo acceptable, and I am on the case”.
Following our meeting, the Minister for health and social care gave an interview in the Evening Standard, acknowledging the concerns of families and campaigners. She told the Standard she was “determined to fix” the issue, after figures revealed one in ten relatives had been denied access to see a relative living in a care home during a Covid outbreak. Ms Whately said:
“I’m still hearing from families around the country who are being stopped from visiting their loved ones. It’s something I’ve experienced myself too … I know the feeling of misery, despair and even anger at being kept away from someone you are desperately worried about. This is something I’m determined to fix.”
Labour MP, Dan Carden led the parliamentary debate. He told MPs that families had endured the “collective trauma” of being denied visits during the Covid pandemic and said constituents had told him “Heartbreaking stories” of relatives being denied access to loved ones, “Really there’s only one thing that can resolve this and that’s legislation, to put in law the right of people in care settings to have visitors,” he told MPs.
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