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Government threatened with legal action over care home guidance requiring residents to self-isolate

Law firm Bindmans said it has been instructed to bring a legal challenge to care home guidance that says residents making a visit out of the care home should isolate for 14 days on their return.

Elizabeth Cleaver and Claire Hann from the law firm, along with barrister Steve Broach of 39 Essex Chambers, last week placed the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care “on urgent notice that the guidance in relation to visits out of care homes (as amended) is unlawful, and amounts to direct and indirect discrimination under the Equality Act 2010”.

The law firm said that on 1 May 2021, the guidance was amended to provide exceptions to the self-isolation rule. “However, the amended guidance only allows for residents to be outdoors (aside from public bathrooms and polling stations) and prohibits the use of public transport. If they do choose to leave the care home, residents are required to be escorted by a member of care home staff or a nominated visitor.”

Bindmans claimed that the Secretary of State had “failed to provide any evidence to justify imposing these conditions on those living in care homes as opposed to the rest of the general population”.

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It argued that the guidance had caused its clients “and no doubt others in their position” to feel criticised, marginalised and degraded, and as though they were incapable of following government guidelines.

The law firm said: “This is an obvious and severe interference with a wide range of the person’s rights (including their right to liberty and to their freedom of association) as well as amounting to direct and indirect discrimination against people contrary to the Equality Act 2010.

“If the Secretary of State fails to revise the guidance in a way which is in accordance with the law, we are instructed to bring the case to the High Court.”

The Government announced yesterday that care home residents would be able to go to medical appointments, a workplace, educational setting and day centres without having to self-isolate on their return.

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