Care services minister Ivan Lewis signalled today the government would use current legislation to close the loophole that exempts independent care homes from liability under the Human Rights Act 1998.
He said the Department of Health was considering how it could amend the Health and Social Care Bill to ensure independent homes providing care arranged by councils or the NHS were bound by human rights law.
Successive court judgements, most recently in the House of Lords last year, have stated that independent care homes are not liable because they do not perform public functions – despite serving the vast majority of residents whose care is publicly arranged.
Human rights and older people’s groups have argued that the situation has allowed abuses to continue, such as arbitrary evictions from homes. The government has long agreed that the loophole must close, but had to date resisted campaigners’ efforts to force a decision on the issue, through an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill.
However, in a debate on the bill on Tuesday, health minister Lord Darzi signalled the government had changed its position.
Lewis also announced today that people funding their own care would have the right to refer complaints to an independent adjudicator for the first time.