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Visiting in Care Homes, Hospitals and Hospices: Government Response to Consultation

Volume 742: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2023

I make this statement on behalf of myself, the Minister for Health and Secondary Care, my right hon. Friend the Member for Pendle (Andrew Stephenson) and the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield) to announce the conclusion of the Government’s consultation on visiting in care homes, hospitals and hospices, and our response.

The covid-19 pandemic taught us valuable lessons about restrictions that had a serious effect on the health and wellbeing of care residents, patients and their families and friends.

Visiting was restricted at the height of the pandemic to prevent the spread of covid and keep people safe, but as restrictions eased the guidance for visiting in hospital and care settings changed accordingly.

The majority of settings adhered to the guidance but there have been reports of people being denied access to family members and loved ones, so the Government have acted to make sure expectations around visits are clear to providers.

On 21 June 2023, the Department of Health and Social Care launched a public consultation on our proposal to ensure that visiting in care homes, hospitals and hospices is protected in legislation.

Under the proposal, the importance of visiting for patients, care home residents and loved ones will become a fundamental standard of care, set out in regulations for the Care Quality Commission (CQC). This means that a visit from a loved one to patients and care home residents will be safeguarded, and Care Quality Commission inspections will monitor whether health and care providers are meeting those obligations.

We received over 1,400 responses to the consultation from a wide range of stakeholders, the majority of which supported the Government’s proposal. We therefore plan to bring forward secondary legislation to create a new fundamental standard in CQC regulations.

I would like to thank all those who participated in our consultation and in particular those from John’s Campaign and Care Rights UK, the hon. Member for Liverpool Walton (Dan Carden), my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch) and the hon. Member for St Albans (Daisy Cooper) who have continued to campaign on this issue.

The Government recognise their efforts and those of the many health and care settings which understand the importance of visiting and continue to follow our existing guidance that visiting should be facilitated. We will work closely with the CQC to develop clear guidance so that all settings can be in no doubt as to the standard expected in the provision of care, including supporting visiting.

The Government’s response to the consultation has been published on and I have deposited copies in the Libraries of both Houses.