Discrimination against carers to become illegal

Minister for Women and Equality Harriet Harman MP has announced the Government will shortly end discrimination against carers.

A written statement issued by the Minister on April 1st stated the change will be included in the Government’s Equality Bill which will be published later this month.

The new ruling will mean employers and service providers will not be able to treat carers differently to people who do not have caring responsibilities. In making this decision the Government has taken account of an historic case taken by carer Sharon Coleman who claimed she was discriminated against by one employer because she had a disabled son.

The ruling will mean that carers who think they have been discriminated against will be able to complain to an employment tribunal or to the County Court if they believe they have been treated unfairly.

Miss Harman said the Equality Bill will include clauses banning “discrimination by association”a phrase which covers the legal definition of ill treatment of workers because they look after someone who is disabled.

She added that the Bill will “prohibit direct discrimination and harassment based on association and perception in respect of race, sex, gender reassignment, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief and age.”

Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said the announcement was a hugely significant decision for carers.

She said: “We hear regularly through our helpline that carers are being discriminated against. Ministers have listened to our arguments and recognised the equality challenges that carers face every day and the urgent need to protect them from discrimination.

“Carers UK will await the publication of the Equality Bill and will study it carefully to ensure that it will deliver greater equality for carers.”

This week saw more good news for carers in the form of a new national information, advice and support telephone service especially for them.

The freephone telephone service supplies a range of information and advice, and includes:

• A guide to caring
• Financial and legal advice
• Advice for young carers
• Work and study information
• Information on local support groups and services
• Advice on keeping healthy

The service is open seven days a week (8am – 9pm Monday to Friday and 11am – 4pm on weekends and bank holidays). The Freephone number is: 0808 802 02 02

For information on the Equality Bill please visit: http://www.commonsleader.gov.uk/OutPut/Page2438.asp

              Modernisation of Bridgend mental health services gets underway

A £32m scheme to modernise mental health services in Bridgend has begun.

Building work, which is expected to be finished in late 2010, will see the creation of a new day centre, rehabilitation unit and the redevelopment of existing facilities.

The development will also include a new multi-storey car park for the Princess of Wales Hospital in readiness for a new £22m Child and Adolescent Mental Health unit to be run by the neighbouring Cwm Taf NHS Trust.

The unit will provide specialised interventions and care for children and teenagers with mental health disorders, including young people with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

Older people denied access to some mental health services
The Healthcare Commission has reported that elderly people in England are often denied access to the full range of mental health services available to younger adults.

At four out of six mental health trusts examined decisions were based as much on age as clinical need, the Commission found. Out-of-hours, alcohol and crisis services, and psychological therapies were often unavailable to the over 65s.

Healthcare Commission Chief Executive Anna Walker called the findings “unacceptable”.

The Healthcare Commission, Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Mental Health Act Commission ceased to exist on 31 March 2009. The Care Quality Commission is the new health and social care regulator for England. Their web address is: www.cqc.org.uk