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Bloomsburry Family law

Legal services

The Bournewood gap: The conclusion

The judgement has been heard and now published by the European Court of Human Rights in respect of the Bournewood case1, which has a major impact on the detention of compliant but mentally incapable individuals for the purposes of receiving mental-heath assessments and treatment. CAROLINE BIELANSKA reports.

Trustees: Know your risks

Many trustees, both professionals and lay people, unwittingly take the risk of being sued for negligence on a daily basis. Over the course of the next three issues of ECA, KARL LAVERY will examine the three main areas of risk faced by trustees. In this issue, he looks at the costs of running a trust.

Discharging older people from hospital care: Exploring the characteristics of effective arrangements

Hospital discharge procedures for older people have always been an important issue for readers STUART PARKER continues the ECA series of articles produced by the Sheffield Institute of Studies on Ageing (SISA) and finds that effective discharge arrangements for older people might be expected to result in about 15 per cent fewer readmissions to hospital than usual care. He also discovers that a key issue in effectiveness is the discharge team’s ability to function across the hospital and community interface.

Continuing care update

Guidance on NHS responsibilities for continuing care was published in June 2001 (HSC 2001/15), following the Coughlan Judgement of 1999 where North and East Devon Health Authority was found to be using flawed eligibility criteria when assessing patients’ needs.

The wisdom test

‘Knowledge dwells in heads replete with thoughts of other men; wisdom in minds attentive to their own’ (William Cowper 1731-1800). Caroline Bielanska addresses the relationship between mental capacity and wisdom. Does the client really know their own mind? Professional awareness and applied professional ethics loom large in her advice to practitioners.

Case feature: The important case of Malcolm Pointon

Many readers will be aware, through recent press coverage, of the successful outcome of a complaint made to the Health Service Ombudsman by Barbara Pointon, concerning the care of her husband Malcolm. In 1999 Barbara and Malcolm were the subject of an acclaimed television documentary called ‘Malcolm and Barbara – a love story’, which followed the couple for four years as they coped with Malcolm’s Alzheimer’s disease. Caroline Bielanska describes what happened next as Barbara repeatedly encountered and overcame obstacles for getting help. The complaint raises once again, the issue of respite for carers, flaws in the assessment process and of continuing NHS healthcare in one’s own home.

Editor’s comment

The silly season news-wise having ended, the silly season for the generation of huge amounts of Department of Health Directions began. Is there a delinquent senior bureaucrat who goes abroad each summer after carefully placing their humourously inclined minions in holiday jobs? For instance, mathematical confusion emanated over the summer period from a certain local authority, which shall simply be known as “nameless”. Targets are important things, the NHS Plan contains at least 68, but from the aforesaid nameless wonder emanated the classic: “Beds unblocked in week 23 of 2003 = 12. Care beds filled in week 23 of 2003 = 12. Total = 24.” Work that one out.