I sent this inquiry to the Equality and Human Rights Commission and to Monitor (the body which awards and monitors foundation status) today.
“1. The Norfolk and Waveney Mental Heath NHS Trust has a practice which excludes service users not in receipt of secondary mental health services from membership of its Service User Council and from the Service User Section of its prospective foundation trust membership. I think this is discriminatory and a breach of the Disability Equality Duty. Can you please advise.
2. Similarly, I am of the opinion that the use of eligibility criteria for the provision of services may also be a breach of the Disability Equality Duty. Can you also please advise on this.”
It will be interesting to see what they say.
I never did get an answer and after chasing it up a few times (see PPlog 22nd November 2007; 1st January 2008; 25th January 2008.
And on 7th of February 2008, I posted this:
ECHR prevarication again
I’ve had this in response to my last communication:
“Dear Mr Cox
Thank you for your letter dated 23 January received by us on 30 January. I am sorry that you did not receive a response to the web enquiry you made on 11 November to the Helpline section on the Commission’s website.
The Helpline section is the appropriate place to direct your enquiries. This should enable you to talk directly to a Helpline adviser. The number is 08457 622 633. The number I gave you in my letter dated 10 January was incorrect. If you have difficulty in getting through then their address is EHRC Disability Helpline, Freepost, MIDO2164, Stratford on Avon, CV37 9BR.
Finally, I should add that the EHRC does have the power to take proceedings in respect of breaches of the general and specific equality duties and will exercise that power when it thinks fit to do so.
Keith Ashcroft - Legal Officer
Equality and Human Rights Commission
Fourth Floor Arndale House
Manchester M4 3AQ
Tel 0161 829 8408
Fax 01925 884 000
So still no answer from EHCR to what, in the light of current media attention, is my main question:
“I am of the opinion that the use of eligibility criteria for the provision of services may also be a breach of the Disability Equality Duty. Can you also please advise on this.”
The prevarication on the part of EHCR is puzzling unless the conclusion is reached that this new body is pussyfooting in league with the government and in conflict with its supposed independent status. Their own website has the advice for public authorities that:
It is unlawful for a public authority exercising a function of a public nature to perform any act which constitutes discrimination. This applies to all the legal grounds for discrimination.
Any local authority, hospital trust or PCT using eligibility criteria MUST be discriminating against those service users disabled within the meaning of the Disability Discrimination Acts who are denied services by those criteria.
And now they’re literally bleeding Commissioners - it’s reported that seven have now left in the last couple of months, including the stalwarts and disability heroes Jane Campbell and Bert Massie - and it’s reported that the main reason they have left is because Trevor Phillips acts and behaves “politically.”
So PPlog, so often accused of being uneccessarily negative appears to have been right.