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Disabled claimant to challenge NHS England guidance restricting hospital visitors

A disabled woman has sent a pre-action protocol letter to NHS England over its “Visitor guidance”, which imposes restrictions on those entering hospitals.

The guidance lists only four exceptional circumstances where one visitor – an immediate family member or carer – is able to visit.

Fleur Perry, who has a genetic condition known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy, is calling for amendment of the guidance “as a matter or urgency”, to include specific allowance for attendance for disabled people who require a Care Assistant/PA such as her.

Fry Law, which is advising her on the challenge, said in the letter that the meeting of many of Ms Perry’s needs required specific training, which most ward nurses did not have.

The firm said that even with someone with her, Ms Perry was at risk in a hospital. “Alone, she would be at a much greater level of risk.”

The letter argued that:

  • NHS England had failed to comply with s.149 of the Equality Act 2010, the public sector equality duty.
  • There had been a failure to make reasonable adjustments.
  • The guidance is in breach of the Human Rights Act 1998.

The letter said judicial review action will be taken if NHS England fails to amend its guidance. Ms Perry will seek to obtain a declaration that the current guidance is unlawful and will include an order compelling NHS England to issue new compliant guidance.

Writing on her blog, Ms Perry said: “Yes, I know there’s a pandemic on. And that makes this even more important. At a time when the NHS is having to work harder, better, faster than ever, removing those who support NHS staff is a no. Asking nurses to do a job they’re not trained to do is a no. Making disabled people frightened to go get treatment until they have no choice is a no. Putting disabled people at risk of harm which will require further treatment is a no.

“At any time, anywhere, ignoring anyone’s Human Rights is a No.”

She added: “This can be fixed. Two lines of text added to this visitor policy would do it. I’d even be happy to help them write it.”