Latest Public Sector News

12.02.15

CQC publishes guidance on the use of hidden cameras to monitor care

The CQC has issued guidance on the use of hidden cameras to monitor the care of older people in hospitals and care homes.

Aimed at families, carers and people who use health and care services, the leaflet sets out things for them to consider when thinking of using recording equipment as well as explaining other steps that can be taken to raise concerns.

It includes advice on gaining permission from the person being cared for and where it can be done.

The 11-page guidance, which also covers non-covert recordings, says that if people do have concerns, they should be raised with the provider of services first and regulators such as the CQC.

It adds that equipment should only be used in a person's private room and permission should be gained from the individual being cared for first – if they are unable to give consent, filming must be shown to be in their best interests.

It also says that privacy of anyone recorded needs to be considered, including staff and visitors.

Chief inspector of adult social care, Andrea Sutcliffe, said: "We all want people using health and social care services to receive safe, effective, high quality and compassionate care. It is what everyone has a right to expect.

"Sadly, we know that does not always happen and the anxiety and distress this causes people, either for themselves or a loved one, is simply awful.

"For some, cameras or other forms of surveillance, whether openly used by services or hidden by families, are the answer. Others feel this is an invasion of people's privacy and dignity. Many don't know what to do if they are concerned.”

She added: "I hope that this information helps the public to make the right decisions for them.  But what I want more than anything is for services to always provide care that meets the standards we all expect so that the public can have confidence.

"CQC will continue to hold providers to account and take action when necessary to make sure that happens."

The guidance comes after secret filming was used by the BBC in 2011 to uncover the abuse of the Winterbourne View scandal.

Undercover footage showed staff repeatedly assaulting and harshly restraining patients under chairs, giving patients cold punishment showers, pulling patients’ hair and forcing medication into their mouths. One patient was left outside in near-freezing temperatures, and staff poured mouthwash into another’s eyes. Victims were shown screaming and shaking, and one patient was seen trying to jump out of a second floor window to escape the torment, and was then mocked by staff members.

Following the scandal the government promised to move people with learning disabilities out of hospital and into communities, but a recent NAO report showed the government had failed in this promise.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said: "Cameras have helped to expose terrible cruelty and neglectful care and I welcome this new advice. Decisions about using surveillance are extremely difficult – there is always a balance to be struck between protecting people and respecting their right to privacy – but this information will help families to the make the right choice for them.

"We are committed to preventing poor care from happening in the first place and have introduced tougher standards for inspecting care services as well as measures to shut down those that aren't up to scratch."

But Nadra Ahmed, of the National Care Association disagreed with the minister and said it was "disappointing" that the guidance had been produced.

She said care homes were not against filming being used in an open way but objected to hidden cameras.

She said: "Covert surveillance is very difficult to swallow. We are going to encourage relatives and friends to do something secretly. That says there is no trust. Relationships in that service will mean nothing."

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