Protest demonstrates anger over council’s McDonald court win


Activists were set to stage a protest this evening over the treatment of a disabled woman denied the night-time care she needs by her local authority.

The Supreme Court caused outrage earlier this month when it ruled that Kensington and Chelsea council did not break the law by deciding to withdraw night-time support for Elaine McDonald even though it had assessed her as needing that support.

The council’s decision meant McDonald would be forced to use incontinence pads at night, even though she was not incontinent.

The protest was set to take place outside Kensington and Chelsea’s town hall, while councillors were inside in a cabinet meeting.

Campaigners planned to deliver an open letter to the council, outlining their concerns about McDonald’s case and how she has been treated.

They are also angry that four male Supreme Court judges ruled against McDonald’s appeal, while only the female judge, Baroness Hale, ruled in her favour.

They say that male judges were “undermining a woman’s right to choose how she is helped with personal care” and that night-time personal assistance was “vital to many disabled people’s independence and safety”.

Jenny Hurst, personal budgets coordinator for Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea, one of the disabled people’s organisations taking part in the protest, said they had received support from across the country.

She said there was “real concern” about the council’s decision, and the precedent now set by the courts.

Hurst said that now the council had removed McDonald’s care during the night, there was nothing to stop other local authorities removing such support from disabled people during the day, or even forcing them to be tube-fed twice a day if they needed assistance with eating.

She said: “It is a real human rights issue. It is absolutely terrible for disabled people. Where does choice and control come into it? There is supposed to be a personalisation agenda.”

Claire Glasman, a spokeswoman for WinVisible, the disabled women’s organisation, which was also supporting the protest, said: “Many women feel we have contributed in all kinds of ways and should not be charged or rationed when it comes to needing some care services.

“There has been a fantastic response from all kinds of groups, not only disability groups but also people who feel they will need care in the future and that we need to be supporting each other.”

21 July 2011 

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