The Unspoken Safeguarding Issue
Yesterday, a stalwart #LBBill campaigner tweeted that she had asked her MP to get behind the #LBBill. The MP’s response was that there is already adequate legislation in place to meet the aims of the Bill but what is needed is better delivery of that legislation. He has a point.
Over the past few days, Ive spent hours collating all the feedback from the #LBBill Facebook group. The group is very buzzy, so it’s a mammoth task. One theme that crops up time and time again in the comments is the call for a greater safeguarding emphasis in the Bill. At first I found this confusing because the whole Bill is about safeguarding the rights of people.
And then the penny dropped. What people are asking for is safeguarding from the professionals who make decisions about our lives. Safeguarding from the professional safeguarders. They want a watertight piece of legislation that doesnt go the same way as the Mental Capacity Act & the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, where the State can chose to ignore or manipulate the legislation.
How does this happen? Is there any other arena in life where a substantial piece of legislation can be so routinely ignored with such dire consequences? Is there any arena where there is no mechanism to routinely check on the legality of a bodies’ actions (or inactions)? And perhaps most crucially is there any other arena where people can break the law and have no sanctions applied whatsoever?
I received a fine from HMRC for an error on my direct payment tax return. I couldnt plead ignorance. Nobody was interested in my explanation. I had erred and there were consequences to that. Compare that minor indiscretion to the way the State wrecks lives through not following legislation. Even when a court decides an unlawful act has taken place, there are no consequences to the perpetrators of the unlawful act.
The State spends an absolute fortune defending the indefensible. We have seen that with gut wrenching regularity throughout the #justiceforlb campaign and the deplorable actions of Southern Health. It happened again at the Nico Reed inquest. There will be no sanctions applied to the commissioners who created hell for the Dyer family. In a much more minor way, I experienced it in 2013 at the humiliating housing benefit tribunal. I turned up on my own and Hillingdon arrived with a top notch barrister who proceeded to make mincemeat of me. It was a lower tier tribunal! But money was no object.
Sara Ryan, every couple of weeks, will ask how the Southern Health disciplinary process is going (its taken 18 months and still no news). Sadly, it feels increasingly like pissing in the wind. The untouchables. No responsibility. No accountability.
My partcular bee in my bonnet is with commissioners and these ridiculously secretive Panels who make life changing decisions for people with no accountability at all. Nobody scrutinises their decisions. And when they get it wrong, it is down to families to fight for justice against overwhelming odds. That cannot be right.
This is why I understand people’s fears that even when (not if) #LBBill becomes law, it will go the same way as all the other social care laws and be ignored or abused. We mustn’t let that happen, so in preparing draft two of the Bill, we have to address this major flaw in the legal processes for physically and learning disabled people.
From → Social Care