New ‘Speaking up’ guidance for GOC registrants

On 28 October 2021, the General Optical Council (GOC) launched new ‘Speaking up’ guidance, previously known as ‘Raising concerns with the GOC (whistleblowing) policy.’ The guidance is aimed at helping both individual and business registrants identify where they need to consider the professional requirement to speak up when a patient or public safety may be at risk. It should be read alongside the GOC Standards for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians, Optical Businesses and Optical Students. It should also be considered in conjunction with the GOC’s professional duty of candour. The guidance is split into two parts, with Part 1 applying to individuals and Part 2 to business registrants.

Continue reading “New ‘Speaking up’ guidance for GOC registrants”

Delving Deeper into care rates

The BBC has this week reported on data obtained from a number of sources in respect of care rates in the UK. The figures will be of interest to personal injury practitioners attempting to value the cost of care.

Figures at a glance

  • The Homecare Association considers the true minimum hourly rate for a care agency carer in the UK is £21.43
  • The average hourly rate for a directly employed carer is £24.94 according to software company The Access Group
  • The government has announced a £162.5m fund for carers having already confirmed a £5.4bn levy for social care over the next three years


BLM’s Care, Statutory Funding and Rehabilitation Subject Matter Group has crunched the numbers from these data sources and note that data collected by the Homecare Association includes care rates that provide for a profit element of 60p per hour which, based on the quoted rate of £21.43, is a 3% mark-up.  Local authority (LA) payments for care do not cover the minimum cost set out by the Homecare Association. Whereas the private care rates obtained by The Access Group include a mark-up of £4.11 which is around 19%. Therefore, what the report suggests is a very wide discrepancy in profit margins between LA funded care and private care.

This report from the Homecare Association coincides with the release of the updated ASHE figures which shows an average increase in care rates across the 60th-90th percentile of 2.6%. BLM’s Actuarial Subject Matter Group will be analysing these findings.  It is important to note that the figures provided in the ASHE data largely cover state funded care rates, which, as the Homecare Association study shows, are much lower than private care rates typically seen in catastrophic injury claims funded by insurers.

BLM’s own experience is that private care rates have seen a steady increase in recent years, with support worker/rehabilitation assistant rates reaching as high as £26 per hour.  This links in with data obtained from The Homecare Association which found Wiltshire to be the area in the UK attracting the highest hourly rates for carers at £26.11. Whereas Halton is only attracting hourly rates of £12.68, highlighting the inequality in care rates across the country with the most deprived areas having the lowest carer rates.

It remains to be seen if private care rates will continue to rise.  The answer could be gleaned from data obtained from ‘Skills for Care’ who have found that:

  • Vacancy rates in carer roles are now back above their pre-pandemic levels
  • Since March 2021, there has been a decrease in jobs (filled posts) of around -1.8%
  • In 2020/21 adult social care jobs increased by 2.8%.  In domiciliary care services jobs increased by 7.4%

The data suggests a struggle in recruiting carers which will of course lead to a higher demand and therefore potentially increasing care rates. BLM will continue to monitor this position and the effect it will have on the costs of future care.

This update has been written for the Care, Statutory Funding and Rehabilitation Subject Matter Group at BLM. For more information on our Subject Matter Groups, please click here.

Written by Phillip Sturley at BLM (

The Assisted Dying Bill: the potential regulatory implications for health professionals

On Friday 22 October, Baroness Meacher’s Assisted Dying Bill progressed to the Committee Stage after being debated in the House of Lords. If enacted, it will undoubtedly be a seminal moment in healthcare law. It would permit medical professionals to lawfully prescribe end of life medication to terminally-ill adult patients of mental capacity who are reasonably expected to die within six months (and voluntarily making such a request), essentially legalising physician-assisted suicide. Although the majority of speakers were in favour of the bill, Hansard reveals how many members hold great concern for the safeguarding of vulnerable individuals and for the impact the bill may have on the public’s trust in doctors. It is therefore entirely understandable why this issue is prompting such widespread debate.

Continue reading “The Assisted Dying Bill: the potential regulatory implications for health professionals”

Gardner v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care – Judicial Review Further Update

The public challenge brought by claimants Dr Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris in respect of the government’s COVID-19 hospital discharge policy reconvened on Friday, 22 October. The days’ submissions followed from the adjourned hearing on Tuesday, 19 October, reported here. This blog will explore the key issues addressed at the hearing, and consider the way forward for the claimants’ case.

Continue reading “Gardner v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care – Judicial Review Further Update”

What is the UK’s legal position on compulsory vaccination?

It has been confirmed that the COVID-19 vaccination will become compulsory for staff that care for the elderly and vulnerable. In enforcing such a requirement, organisations are likely to face a number of issues and potential pitfalls, and it is important therefore to explore the key steps if you are considering introducing compulsory vaccination for staff or those deployed in the organisation.

Continue reading “What is the UK’s legal position on compulsory vaccination?”

Removing COVID restrictions – what will be the effect on the Social Care Sector?

The vast majority of COVID-19 restrictions are set to be removed in England on 19 July.  It’s worth noting that deaths in care homes with the involvement of COVID-19 have reduced substantially in recent months – see here for the most recent ONS statistics on reported deaths from care homes. But will this downward trend continue once restrictions are removed generally across the population, especially in view of rising infection levels? 

Continue reading “Removing COVID restrictions – what will be the effect on the Social Care Sector?”

Tort reform ideas outlined in maternity safety report?

Last week the Commons Health and Care Select Committee published what is likely to be a very significant report examining safety issues in NHS maternity care. The primary focus of the report is improving patient safety by learning from well-documented failings in East Kent, Shrewsbury and Morecambe and the report makes important recommendations on this aspect. A second strand of the inquiry was to review the effect that the current clinical negligence claims and litigation process has on improving outcomes and to consider if changes are necessary. The Committee found that they are and this blog summarises its recommendations on that topic.

Continue reading “Tort reform ideas outlined in maternity safety report?”

Optics: Remembering the basics during these extraordinary times

As the optical profession adapts to a new way of working, there are a number of themes that run through the guidance produced by the General Optical Council and professional bodies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; professional judgement, communication and record keeping. Keeping these fundamental principles in mind should help practitioners navigate their way through these turbulent times.

Continue reading “Optics: Remembering the basics during these extraordinary times”

What is the appropriate measure of diffidence/deference to be accorded to the MPT?

Dr Sastry & Dr Okpara v GMC [2021] EWCA Civ 623

Both Dr Sastry and Dr Okpara appealed against decisions by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal (MPT) to erase their names from the register. Both appeals were dismissed at first instance as the High Court on each occasion was reluctant to interfere with the original tribunal’s decision.

Continue reading “What is the appropriate measure of diffidence/deference to be accorded to the MPT?”

Government partially amends Coronavirus Act 2020 easements

We wrote this time last year about the introduction of easements to the 2014 Care Act via the Coronavirus Act 2020 (see here).  These easements allowed local authorities not to carry out certain duties placed up on them by the 2014 Act if the workforce was significantly depleted due to the pandemic or Care Act duties could not be met due to demand. 

Continue reading “Government partially amends Coronavirus Act 2020 easements”