Woman loses plea for `home for life`

R v Lincolnshire Health Authority ex p Katie Collins, 6
September 2001, was a judicial review application made by a
35-year-old woman who suffered from learning difficulties. She had
lived in a specially adapted unit for adults with learning
difficulties since 1990, but in November 2000 the health authority
advised Collins that it would no longer provide the service and
would meet her needs in the community instead.

Collins applied for judicial review on the basis that there had
been a promise of a home for life which had been breached, and
relied on the seminal judgement in the Coughlin case, which said
that there had to be an overriding public interest before a promise
of a home for life could be broken.

Mr Justice Collins found that the information provided to
Collins (no relation) in 1990 was not of sufficient certainty to
establish a home for life. In any event, he distinguished the
Coughlin case (where a home was to be closed for economic reasons),
and said that here the health authority had determined that
Collins’ best interests were that she lived in the community. In
any event the decision was in accordance with government policy
that if possible people with learning difficulties should be
provided services in the community if there are no health reasons
for them to be treated in NHS accommodation.

Stephen Cragg

Doughty Street Chambers

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