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The Red Tape Challenge (Or Cutting The Ties to Humanity)

November 8, 2012

This week, the department of Health began its consultation process for its “Red Tape Challenge” in health and social care. You can read about it here (http://www.dh.gov.uk/health/2012/11/red-tape-challenge/). As it is legally bound to do, the DofH is consulting; inviting comments from interested parties on the areas that it has identified as “red tape”. It’s a clever, nasty move couching the proposed cuts in those terms – who in the right mind would argue against cutting bureaucratic red tape.

But as they say, the devil is the detail (and there’s plenty of devilment in this document). And by heck, there is a lot of detail to get through in the paper, much of it over my head. One area that hits me on the head obviously is the Deprivation of Liberty safeguards; a clunky, flawed piece of legislation but until a better alternative is in place, the only means a vulnerable person has of challenging being unlawfully deprived of their liberty by the authorities. Safeguards are lifelines – not pesky red tape.

Two crucial aspects of the safeguards are to enable the person deprived of their liberty to have a relevant person’s representative (RPR), who is usually a family member or carer. who can help the voice of the detained person be heard and challenge the DoL if it’s against their wishes. Secondly, the person is entitled to an Independent Mental capacity Advocate (IMCA) who can provide professional backing to the detained person. Without these two interventions, the vulnerable person is quite alone and completely reliant on the supervisory body acting in their best interests and getting it right without any other concealed agenda. And as we know, they do sometimes get it terribly wrong. The Department of Health has decided that the RPR and the IMCA roles are red tape and can be cut out. No professional advocacy. No nuisance relative challenging the professional view. No access to justice if an injustice has occurred.

To personalise for a moment, without my voice and eventually the voice of the IMCA, Steven would have ended up in a care home over 200 miles from his home (“facing a life in public care that he does not want or does not need”). He would have been left to rot there, losing contact with family and friends and all the things that are important to him and make his quality of life. His detainment was an illegal one based on flawed best interests assessments and duplicitous actions from the LA. But none of that matters to the DoH because it is just red tape and has to be cut away.

When I started writing this blog, I had the idea of throwing everything into it; a mish mash of stuff that interested me. Over the months though, it seems to have become about two things: understanding the fake language that underpins most of our “care” discourse and exposing the hidden agendas behind the spin. I realise that is a grandiose statement but I do really believe it is the biggest challenge of the day. I work as a counsellor and I hear on a daily basis how much our psychological well-being is damaged by this hellish nonsense; how much our sense of our reality is skewed by the outward presentation.

So it is more than likely that behind the spin of the Red Tape Challenge is our two old friends: money and power. The money one is obvious; on a basic level IMCA’s cost money but they are only the starting point. Think of the efficiency savings that can be made on the legal aid bill (which the detained person is automatically entitled to by the way). But RPRs don’t cost a single penny, although like the IMCA. they can trigger off the costly court process. Where I live, there are at least 24 very senior managers within the social care hierarchy but who is going to suggest that there might be a bit of red tape there that could be cut.

No RPR. No IMCA. The committed professionals within the field who might want to challenge the challenge but are buggared because they are in the system. What chance does the vulnerable person have with all those people out of the picture.

We must fight this. Families, legal professionals, social care workers must come together and make sure that the precious few human rights that a vulnerable person has aren’t savaged any further.

This is a call to arms! Who’s in?

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From → Social Care

3 Comments
  1. Yasmin permalink

    I have a suggestion. Please get in touch with me.

  2. Yasmin permalink

    My Apologies your a blog, not a Contact Center.

  3. Bill McMellon. permalink

    Have you formally responded to this consultaion, Mr. Neary? if not, please can you do do? This piece is v. powerful, and important.

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