Regulator’s care guidance could discriminate


Guidance drafted by the new health and social care regulator could discriminate against disabled people who want to work in the industry according to legal experts.
>From next April, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will begin to put in place the first registration system to cover all health and adult social care services in England.
Services will have to meet new common standards laid out by the Department of Health (DH), so the CQC has launched a consultation on draft guidance it has drawn up to describe how services can meet those regulations, which are also in draft form.
But an equality impact assessment carried out for the CQC says draft guidance explaining that someone who wants to register a service or become a registered manager should be “physically and mentally fit” could place a disabled person at a disadvantage.
The regulations and guidance make it clear that all health and social care employees must also be physically and mentally fit for their roles.
The assessment, carried out by the law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP, recommends that the CQC discuss the issue with the DH and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
The EHRC and the General Social Care Council have previously warned that laws requiring social workers to be “physically and mentally fit” are discriminatory.
The EHRC said it raised concerns with the DH during the consultation on its draft regulations that they contained “potentially discriminatory” wording.
An EHRC spokeswoman added: “We are yet to provide a formal response to the CQC’s draft guidance, but we will be highlighting similar concerns.”
A DH spokeswoman said: “We are considering the EHRC’s response to the consultation alongside other responses and will seek an early opportunity to discuss the issues raised by [them].”
A CQC spokesman said the guidance would need slight changes following the consultation period, but it might also ask the DH for some clarification.
The CQC consultation runs until 24 August.

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