Client group’s anger over inspection refusal

Government plans to bar new service user representative bodies from inspecting social care services could put clients’ safety and rights at stake, a service user leader has said.

Shaping Our Lives chair Peter Beresford made the comments after it emerged that Local Involvement Networks (LINks) would not have rights of entry to mental health facilities and non-communal areas of care homes, as well as all services for children. LINks will replace patient and public involvement forums next year, but cover social care as well as health.

In its response to a health select committee report on patient and public involvement in the NHS last week, the government said LINks would not have the same rights to enter social care premises as forums have to inspect healthcare facilities, specifying that children’s services would be excluded.

A report leaked to the Health Service Journal revealed that mental health facilities and non-communal areas of care homes would also be barred.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection argued that extending these rights to care homes was wrong as they should be treated as private spaces.

Frances Hasler, CSCI’s head of user and public involvement, said: “We are concerned that increasing the numbers of people who have rights of access to private spaces goes against people’s privacy and dignity.”

However, Beresford said: “There should be no ballpark exclusions. People should have a right to say yes or no to service user-led inspections, whether they are in a hospital or care home.”

He added that LINks will have a vital role to play in communicating service users’ views on broader issues than those covered in regulatory inspections. “When institutions are closed to the public that’s where problems of abuse and neglect can occur.”

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