Health Bill 2020
(Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) (2020 Bill)
Safeguarding Ireland understands that it is necessary to have legislation to make exceptional provision, in the public interest, to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus but in doing so it is necessary to ensure that actions do not allow for abusive practices to be visited on the most vulnerable.
It is proposed in Section 38A(7) of the 2020 Bill to incorporate some of the provision contained in Section 38 of the Health Act 1947.
Section 38(2) provides that where an order is made to detain a person certain information and documentation is given to an ‘appropriate person’ and Section 38(3)(c) provides that ‘where the patient, being an adult person, is for any reason unable to act for himself – the person for the time being in charge of the patient’ shall be the appropriate person. This provision is not at all appropriate in 2020.
The legislation must provide that were a person lacks capacity, or whose capacity is in question or who needs support to understand the implication of such an order being made to detain him or her must have access to an Independent Advocate.
This will ensure that fair procedures are followed and in the event of the need to exercise the right of appeal against the order as provided for in Section 38A (5) of the 2020 Bill, and to ensure that a review does take place as necessary that the voice of the person is heard.
A person in charge of a place of detention is likely to be conflicted in such circumstances and certainly would not be in a position to act independently for the benefit of the person being detained.
Safeguarding Ireland also has a concern about the very wide powers being given to a ‘medical officer of health’ and requests that clear safeguards are set out in the legislation as to oversight in this regard.
Ronan Cavanagh, Safeguarding Ireland / Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.
Safeguarding Ireland in an independent agency to promote safeguarding of adults who may be vulnerable, protect them from all forms of abuse by persons, organisations and institutions and develop a national plan for promoting their welfare. www.safeguardingireland.org
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