WELCOME TO ALL FELLOW CAMPAIGNERS for DISABILITY RIGHTS - a pan disability blog connecting my work with, EQUAL LIVES, the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) and the Survivor History Group.

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Friday, 21 May 2010

Norfolk County Council and Mental Health Exclusion 3

I have a second response from Norfolk County Council (see “Norfolk Discrimination?” 7th May below)

                “Hello again.

                I have asked 1 or 2 people to look into the mental health information you require. NCODP and the people you mention are correct.

                My statement was to demonstrate that people with other needs in addition to sensory or physical disability are not excluded from Services.

                As indicated  previously, the strategy is about the most appropriate approach to consult, plan and commission services. The strategy in question was designed so people who are Deaf, Blind dual sensory loss and /or physically disabled can influence and support this process.

                With mental health (which I am no expert), there are health and social care responsibilities and a whole range of legislation duties and guidance. These will determine the strategic and commissioning plans for people with a mental health diagnosis. Like the strategy in question, people who need and access mental health provision would of been part of consultation processes


                Paul Bowerbank”


I have replied to this today:

Hello Mr Bowerbank.

I have looked carefully at both of your responses and have tried hard to see where you haven't treated different groups of people separately and stereotyped those groups. I have failed. What, in my opinion, you are practising is a segregationalist policy and this inevitably leads to different groups of disabled people receiving services of variable and unequal delivery and quality. Perhaps you don't realise you are doing this. I have separated out some quotes from your responses with the relevant phrases emboldened to underline this segregation.   

“The aim of the strategy was to ensure people with physical and sensory loss had a process to be heard, have their say and help us plan and identify services that are needed for this group of people.”

Older people have a strategy as do people with learning difficulties, mental health and children. The Local authority wanted to ensure all people with specific needs had a process to be able to get their own issues understood.”

“The strategy in question was designed so people who are Deaf, Blind dual sensory loss and /or physically disabled can influence and support this process.”

“With mental health (which I am no expert), there are health and social care responsibilities and a whole range of legislation duties and guidance. These will determine the strategic and commissioning plans for people with a mental health diagnosis... “

The Joint Strategy in question is one in which service users are trained to monitor the implementation of Personalisation. People with mental health problems are undeniably excluded from this, as confirmed by NCODP and, along with people with learning disabilities, are obviously denied this level of quality of service because of that exclusion. In addition, and this is underlined in many Department of Health strategies, mental health service users need community care services and/or personalisation as much as any other disabled person. This need does not rely on any form of medicalisation, including a "diagnosis." 

I have pointed out my opinion that this segregation and exclusion of people with mental health problems from the Joint Strategy is discriminatory. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities says:

 Discrimination on the basis of disability” means any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of disability which has the purpose or effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis with others, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. It includes all forms of discrimination, including denial of reasonable accommodation; ”

“Accommodation” in the Convention means adjustments.

Integration of people with disabilities is a continuous theme running through recent government, third sector  and service user group policies. However, I realise that a change of government may mean a change in policy (although the indications don't suggest this) so, while pointing you to the call for full social integration in “Putting People First”, I have included below, relevant quotes from the international standards contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which even our new government has to observe (my emboldening throughout): 

    “Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

    Article 3 

General principles 

(c)        Full and effective participation and inclusion in society;

        e) Equality of opportunity;

 Article 9 


1.     To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia: 

 Article 10 

Right to life 

       States Parties reaffirm that every human being has the inherent right to life and shall take all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others. 

Article 17 

Protecting the integrity of the person 

      Every person with disabilities has a right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others. 

Article 19 

Living independently and being included in the community 
States Parties to the present Convention recognize the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others, and shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community, including by ensuring that: 

       (b)   Persons with disabilities have access to a range of in-home, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community; 
        (c)   Community services and facilities for the general population are available on an equal basis to persons with disabilities and are responsive to their needs. 

Article 25 

        States Parties recognize that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure access for persons with disabilities to health services that are gender-sensitive, including health-related rehabilitation. In particular, States Parties shall: 
        (a)    Provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes; 
        (d)  Require health professionals to provide care of the same quality to persons with disabilities as to others, including on the basis of free and informed consent by, inter alia, raising awareness of the human rights, dignity, autonomy and needs of persons with disabilities through training and the promulgation of ethical standards for public and private health care;” 

l do then firmly believe that denying people with mental health problems inclusion in the Joint Strategy for monitoring Personalisation in Norfolk is clearly discrimination because of their disability. In addition, if the Equality Act 2010 is brought into force in October 2010 as originally intended, I firmly believe you will be in breach of this.

I regret to say if I do not hear from you telling me what measures Norfolk County Council intends to take to remedy this breach of UK disability rights and international disability rights I will have to take the matter further.


Mike Cox.

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