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Going into Hospital and Your Rights

By: Judith Cameron - Updated: 25 Feb 2013 | comments*Discuss
Loved One Hospital State Benefits Care

If your loved one is taken to hospital it can be an anxious time for you both whatever their financial situation. If however they rely on state benefits, you need to be aware that these may be affected.

Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance

Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance (care component) are suspended after 28 days in hospital. If your loved one gets one of these benefits and is going into hospital, inform the Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance helpline straight away. Call it on 0845 7123 456 if you live in England, Scotland or Wales. If in Northern Ireland, call the Disability and Carer’s Service on 028 9090 6178 (for Attendance Allowance) or 028 9090 6182 (for Disability Living Allowance). Remember to inform them when you know that your loved one is going to be discharged from hospital so that the benefits can be reinstated.

Carer’s Allowance

If you are claiming Carer’s Allowance, you may be able to continue to receive it for up to 12 weeks out of a 26-week period; this will depend on how long you have been a carer and whether you have had a break within the last 26 weeks. If your loved one has to go into respite care, your Carer’s Allowance will stop after four weeks. For more information on this, call the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 01253 856123 (or call the Disability and Carer’s Service on 028 9090 6186 if you are in Northern Ireland).

A Patients’s Rights in Hospital

All patients have a legal right to a reasonable standard of care and treatment from hospital staff to include:

  • Respect for privacy, dignity and religious and cultural beliefs;
  • Respect for confidentiality;
  • A clean and safe hospital environment; and
  • A named nurse in charge of their care with name badges to be worn by all staff.

A Patient’s Right to Information

Your loved one has the right to have any treatment, including the risks and any alternatives, clearly explained before they agree to it. Doctors should reply fully and truthfully to any questions asked unless they think it is in the patient’s best interest not to. This is rare and if your loved one thinks that they are not being told enough, this is probably due to poor communication rather than any deliberate attempt to withhold information. All patients have the right to see their medical records, although they do not have the automatic right to see written records that were made before November 1991.

Your Rights to Information About Your Loved One

If the person you care for is perceived by the hospital staff as competent and makes clear that they do not want you or others to be informed about their health that is their right. Only if the medical profession think that observing the confidentiality of your loved one would put either their health or that of someone else at risk, can they disclose any information if they have been asked not to. Most likely though, your loved one will be anxious that you are as informed about their condition as they are. Nevertheless, when you visit them in hospital and make an appointment to speak to their doctor, always include them if at all possible. After all, it is their health, well-being and quality of life that is being discussed and it is their decisions that should take precedence, not yours. But, if your loved one’s illness has made them confused or unable to effectively communicate, it is advisable to have previously discussed with them their preferences with regard to medical intervention.

A Patient’s Right to Refuse Treatment

Anyone is normally free to refuse any treatment or medication as long as they understand what this refusal will mean. A doctor can only examine and treat someone without their consent in certain circumstances: for example, if they are:

  • Unconscious and cannot indicate their wishes;
  • Detained under the Mental Health Act; or
  • Temporarily incapable of giving consent: for example, due to drugs or alcohol.
If someone is forced into having any treatment they don't want, this can be treated as an assault.

If you have Lasting Powers of Attorney for your loved one, it will be your decision whether or not they should receive a course of medical treatment. If your loved one is very ill, this can be an enormously difficult decision to make and is hopefully something that you will have discussed together previously.

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I was admitted to hospital on 20/2/13 at 10:45, the paramedics told the first nurse that I has lost control of my bladder. I told the second nurse the same & two Doctors following that. I asked another nurse if I could see a manager & she asked me why? I asked her the time & it was 14:40, I explained that I had been lay in urine soaked jeans for over 4 hours & that I wanted to complain at the treatment of a patient with physical & mental disabilities. She removed & bagged my jeans & boxers. I suffer from spinal injuries, PTSD & anxiety.Is this abuse???Thank youPaul
Wilkie - 25-Feb-13 @ 7:03 AM
My mother 92 years old had a fall and broke her ankle she will be unable to put any weight on it for six weeks. She has been placed in a fracture trauma ward its set up in bays of 4 all the other 3 people in room have dementure and the person opposite crys out constantely day and night. My mother has no dementure and is very alert for her years. I have asked several times for her to be moved but nothing happens. What are our rights over this because I feel to leave her here any longer will effect her badly, she is unable to sleep at night because of the other patient.
corbiere - 21-Jun-11 @ 10:17 PM
Hi, my mum is in hospital following a stroke 2 weeks ago.The unit is a stroke rehab one and I'm not very happy about her being there.Her mobility is good, that not having been affected much by the stroke.She is unable to speak yet although she is trying very hard to do so.She hates being there and as dyspraxia is affected by not being relaxed I feel this along with her being so unhappy is hindering her progress.The staff take a long time to get round to doing the therapies needed and even then it's for a short while only each day.I care for full time at home and fell that she would be much happier here and I can give her a lot more input.If she is medically sound (once the catheter they have in place - not because of incontinence but for their convenience) is removed where do I stand with regard to getting her home.I've heard that the speech therapists visit people at home and I'm more than happy to support their work after they've gone.Many thanks :-)
Cara - 24-Mar-11 @ 11:12 AM
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