Proposals to enshrine into law hospital and care home visiting rights have been raised in Parliament by a Labour MP.
Dan Carden said the care of a loved one should not be an “optional extra” but is an “absolutely central part of dignified care” as he introduced his Care Supporters Bill to the Commons.
He told MPs about the “dangerous hangover from Covid restrictions” and criticised the “lack of urgency from the Government to change things”.
Mr Carden had previously opened up about his family’s battle for hospital access in the weeks before the death of his father during the Covid-19 pandemic, as he led a debate on the issue back in October last year.
Calling on the Government to introduce the new legal right, he said: “The care of a loved one is not an optional extra. It is an absolutely central part of dignified care.
“Separation and isolation have a deeply harmful impact on individuals, but particularly on those who are vulnerable and for those who are approaching the end of life. The impact cannot be understated.
“My Bill seeks to recognise these fundamental points and put them into law.”
The Labour MP insisted that throughout the pandemic, guidance proved “consistently inadequate”, as it was applied with levels of uncertainty and variability, leading to a “postcode lottery as separate settings interpreted guidance differently”.
He added: “Do we as society give the right to institutions of the state or private, namely hospitals or care homes to deny us contact with family and loved ones because they are in receipt of their care?
“Or do we believe we should keep our right to maintain contact with loved ones, regardless of health or care needs? I think it’s obvious.
“I believe we should make a clear choice for the latter and enshrine that right in law in this House.
“There is a dangerous hangover from Covid restrictions and a lack of urgency from Government to change things. It means the need for this Bill is as pivotal as it was during the pandemic.”
Explaining how his proposals would work, he said: “The Bill would place a duty on health and care providers to allow a service user to be accompanied by a care supporter.
“A care supporter is defined as a person nominated as such by the service user. Importantly, the right would attach to the service user and only following their clear and informed consent.
“The Bill places a duty on providers to allow unrestricted, in person support from at least one essential care supporter nominated by the service user.”
Mr Carden presented his Bill via the 10-minute rule motion procedure, which allowed him 10 minutes to outline his proposals.
It was listed for a second reading on Friday, November 24, but the Bill is unlikely to make further progress in its current form due to a lack of parliamentary time to debate Bills tabled by backbench MPs.