DAA News Network

Health or Independence? Not both, says Law

Posted 25/3-09 at 13.31

On March 23, 2009 the Honourable Justice Silber decided that as the NHS was a free service it could not make direct payments to disabled people to ensure their independent living within the community.

Mr Harrison and Mrs. Garnham both had direct payments from their local authorities but their health needs increased. Apparently, this allowed their local authorities to off-load them onto the NHS as the more appropriate service provider. This meant that they could not get direct payments, enabling them to control their own support within their homes and the community. It also meant that their health needs would be supported within an NHS institution. 

With the help of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission they took their dilemma to court as a violation of their right to family and community life under the European Convention on Human Rigths. As Judge Silber said:

'Anybody who has read of the health and disability problems with which the claimants are faced will have great sympathy and respect for them. I must however determine this case by applying legal principles.'

It seems that now disabled people are not only caught in the post code lottery trap, but also are to be denied the right to independent living. This ruling will have serious consequences.

We would really like to have your views on this ruling – especially if it will affect you personally.


Comment added 05/4-09 at 23.24 by: Frances Strong (frances_strong@msn.com)

As a member of the Disability Movement in the UK I have for a number of years been warning about the 'medicalisation' of Independent Living by the current trend to draw Social Services and the Health Service closer together in providing services for Disabled People.
Disability is not a medical issue and the outcome of this court case is, more-or-less, what I have been predicting.

Comment added 27/3-09 at 18.24 by: Dan ()

This goes to the heart of the rights of all patients. If Lord Darzai's reforms of the health service mean anything it is the empowerment of patients. It is not about choice but about having control of your own life, something the health service is going to have to come to terms with.

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