Carers UK strongly welcomed the fact that Peers have today successfully won an amendment against the Government’s attempt to revoke the Community Care (Delayed Discharges etc) Act 2003 in the Health and Care Bill during its report stage in the Lords. The Bill, unamended, would have taken away unpaid carers’ vital rights at the point of hospital discharge.
The amendment, which was led by Baroness Pitkeathley, had cross-party support from Lord Young, Baroness Hollins and Baroness Meacher.
This was an important and decisive “win” for carers, showing that Peers understood and recognised the value of unpaid carers’ support. The vote of 205 to 155 against the Government’s proposals sends a very clear message to Government that they should protect carers’ rights as the Bill progresses.
The amendment safeguards carers’ rights by ensuring hospitals consult with unpaid carers at the point of discharge, builds in checks that the carer is willing and able to care and would ensure joint working to make sure that the carers are supported. Importantly, the amendment means that the rights would apply to adults providing unpaid care to other adults who are disabled or chronically ill, parent carers of disabled children and young carers who are so often overlooked.
Carers UK’s research and in-depth evidence from carers showed that, by not consulting, involving or supporting the unpaid carer, the health of the patient, as well as the carer, was being put at risk. This included patients being readmitted to hospital where carers said this could have been avoided.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“When this Bill returns to the Commons, it is essential that MPs understand why protecting carers rights is so important. It is vital to uphold this amendment and ensure that it remains in the Bill. Our evidence shows what a devastating time hospital discharge can be for carers if they are not consulted, involved or given the right information and support to care safely and well. They should not be taken for granted.
“We thank the carers for sharing their experiences and Peers who have contributed to this important vote.”
Baroness Jill Pitkeathley, Vice-President of Carers UK, who tabled and moved the amendment in the House of Lords said:
“This afternoon I am delighted that Amendment 113 to the Health and Care Bill, tabled in my name, was passed by Members of the House of Lords by 205 votes to 155 votes, helping to safeguard unpaid carers rights at the point of hospital discharge.
I am extremely grateful for the support of all sides of the House in this matter, in particular Lord Young, Baroness Meacher, Baroness Hollins and Baroness Brinton. Carers play an absolutely essential role in supporting family and friends, and hospital discharge can be one of the biggest challenges they face. Despite assurances from the Government that carers would be included in statutory guidance around hospital discharge, it is important that we retain carers’ rights in primary legislation. Too often, we have seen guidance watered down or removed and it is no substitute for rights in law.
I am delighted that we so far have averted a situation where, had the Bill passed to the next stage in its current form, it would have been the first time that carers’ rights had been removed in health and care legislation without having something better put in its place.
Today’s victory for the UK’s millions of unpaid carers should send a strong message to this Government that they do matter – as do their rights.”