Care staff banned from working with children or vulnerable adults by ministers without a full hearing may be eligible for compensation after the House of Lords ruled the practice was a breach of human rights.
In a judgement published yesterday, the Law Lords ruled in favour of four nurses who argued that their provisional listing under the Protection of Vulnerable Adults scheme breached their rights to a fair trial and to respect for their private lives.
Suspended from work
Under Pova and the Protection of Children Act schemes, staff could be provisional listed, and thereby suspended from work, on the basis of allegations, before these had been fully investigated and their case heard.
The four nurses were barred from both lists for over seven months; three were not fully listed in the end and the only one who was successfully challenged the decision at the Care Standards Tribunal.
In the ruling, Baroness Hale said: “The care worker suffers possibly irreparable damange without being heard whatever the nature of the allegations made against her. The care worker may have a good answer to the allegations no matter how serious they are.”
She said there were cases where the need to protect the vulnerable was “so urgent” that some form of provisional listing may be justified, but this would need to be followed by a “swift” hearing.
Provisional listing ended
By coincidence, the practice of provisional listing for both Poca and Pova ceased this week when both schemes were taken over by the Independent Safeguarding Authority. The ISA’s vetting and barring scheme for people working with children and vulnerable adults, which will replace Pova, Poca and education scheme List 99 in October, will also not have a provisional listing function.
Right to a hearing
Peter Carter, general secretary and chief executive of the RCN, said: “I am delighted the highest court in the land has upheld the principle that care workers have a right to have their side of the story heard before losing their livelihoods, often for more than a whole year.”
He added: “The judgment means that the government is liable to pay compensation to people who have been wrongly removed from the workforce, estimated to cost millions of pounds.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said it was “considering” the judgement.