A disabled campaigner has won his third legal case against separate government departments over their failure to provide information in accessible formats.
Graham Kirwan had already secured victories over the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department of Health.
DWP previously paid him £1,700 damages for refusing to communicate by email over his personal independence payment claim, and in 2015 he was responsible for persuading NHS England to publish its first accessible information standard, thanks to another legal action.
Now he has secured a confidential sum of damages from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) over its failure to provide accessible versions of the forms he needs to take legal action for disability discrimination under the Equality Act.
Kirwan, who is partially-sighted, has computer software that can magnify text, but it does not usually work with scanned or PDF documents.
He had tried in 2015 to access forms from the HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) “form finder” web pages but they were only available in PDF format.
He asked HMCTS to make all its forms available in both PDF and Word formats on its website but was told instead to contact his local court every time he required a form.
But this “reasonable adjustment” meant it sometimes took six weeks for a form to arrive, while on most occasions he never received it.
Source: Campaigner defeats third government department on accessible information | DisabledGo News and Blog
In spite of public anger over the absence of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling today as a major increase in rail fares was announced, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has refused requests for interviews as news broke that NHS England is telling hospitals to cancel all non-urgent operations and outpatient appointments for the whole month of January.
This is far from the first time that Hunt has gone ‘AWOL’ – or hidden – during an NHS crisis.
Last winter, as the NHS struggled through the 2016/17 winter crisis, Hunt disappeared for weeks before finally emerging to give a weak interview to the BBC in which he stated there were ‘no excuses’ for the NHS disaster – before making a list of excuses and blaming all kinds of things for it.
Except himself, of course.
Now, as hospitals all over England are told to cancel thousands of operations for a whole calendar month – on top of cancellations already made in December – the Department of Health (DH) has,
Source: Hunt refusing interviews as NHS cancels all non-urgent ops and outpatients
Survey shows that only 1 in 4 social workers feel England’s adult social care system is ‘fair and safe’, due to devastating funding cuts.
Source: Social workers blow the whistle on ‘unfair and unsafe’ adult care system
A nurse who was at school with prime minster Theresa May has warned the government must stop paying nurses a ‘pittance’.
Source: Stop paying nurses a pittance, says nurse classmate of Theresa May | RCNi
Austerity may be starting to affect life expectancy in England, according to a leading health expert. Life expectancy has been rising for decades, but the latest data shows the rate of increase has slowed. University College London expert Sir Michael Marmot said he was “deeply concerned” by the situation, saying it was “entirely possible” austerity was affecting how long people live. His suggestion has been dismissed by the government, however. The Department of Health said it was providing the necessary support and funding to ensure life expectancy “continues to increase”. Using Office for National Statistics data, Sir Michael, who has advised both the government and World Health Organization, showed the rate of increase in life expectancy had nearly halved since 2010. Between 2000 and 2015, life expectancy at birth increased by one year every five years for women and by one year every 3.5 years for men. But this compares to one year every 10 years for women and one for every six for
Source: Rises in life expectancy ‘levelling off’ | DisabledGo News and Blog
With the central government grant falling, David Buck takes a look at local authorities’ plans for public health spending in 2017/18.
Source: Chickens coming home to roost: local government public health budgets for 2017/18 | The King’s Fund
Current laws that aim to ensure disabled people are not deprived of their liberty unlawfully are “in crisis” and need to be replaced urgently, according to the government’s advisers on law reform. The current system has led to tens of thousands of people with dementia and learning difficulties being detained in hospitals and care homes without the appropriate independent checks that their rights have not been breached, according to the Law Commission. This week, following a public consultation, the commission published its final report on Mental Capacity and Deprivation of Liberty, which includes proposals for new legislation on how the law should ensure that people without the capacity to give their consent to their care arrangements are the least restrictive they can be and are also in that person’s best interests. The current system, the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), has been described as an “administrative and bureaucratic nightmare”, and the report says it is “overly
Source: Deprivation of liberty rules are ‘in crisis’ and must be replaced, says Law Commission | DisabledGo News and Blog
Protections for NHS whistleblowers are to be extended under new Government plans.
Source: NHS whistleblowers to get more protection under new plans
NHS finances are almost at breaking point. Since 2010, the unprecedented slowdown in funding growth and rising demand have made it increasingly difficult for the health service to live within its means. In the past, some hospitals have received extra financial support from the Department of Health when they have overspent, but the latest NHS planning guidance signals a shift from this approach by asking providers to balance their budgets by the end of 2016/17.
But what does this mean for people who access health services, and how can they examine the effect of financial pressures on their local health system?
Health care systems around the world have to take decisions about which services and treatments to provide and for whom. These decisions – sometimes referred to as ‘rationing’ – are taken at many levels: by national bodies; by local commissioners and providers; and by clinicians. While some decisions are explicit (agreed in law or policy) others are less easily identified as they are based on individual judgements.
Commissioners, providers and clinicians base their decisions on a range of factors
Source: Six ways in which NHS financial pressures can affect patient care | The King’s Fund