‘Historic’ moment as support for people with Down’s Syndrome written into law

Councils and hospitals will be issued with specific guidance on supporting people with Down’s syndrome under a historic new law.

On Thursday, the UK became the first country in the world to pass legislation aimed at improving services for people with the condition, of whom there are estimated to be 40,000 in Britain.

The Down’s Syndrome Bill, which was introduced by Liam Fox, the former Conservative minister, will require the Health Secretary to issue statutory guidance to local authorities and the NHS about housing, education and social care.

To date there have been no laws that mention the condition by name, meaning it has only been covered by general safeguards for Britons with various disabilities.

Children with Down’s will now be entitled to have their needs met at a school of their parents’ or carers’ choice, while access to social care is to be placed on a footing with other minority groups.

Many people with the condition are outliving their parents in light of a significant increase in their life expectancy. This has led to concerns around the support available to them in later life and a push to prevent “avoidable human tragedies”.

Dr Fox, the MP for North Somerset, took up the cause after meeting parents who struggled to access appropriate support for their children despite living in one of Britain’s wealthiest constituencies.

Eliminating the stigma

He said he was “thrilled” his Private Members’ Bill is becoming an act of Parliament and expressed his hope it would end the stigma around Down’s.

Dr Fox will sit on a steering group, made up of stakeholders including specialist charities and people with the condition, which will advise Sajid Javid as he draws up the statutory recommendations.

Ministers are also considering the creation of a new National Down’s Syndrome Strategy to support the legislation. It would be reviewed by ministers and MPs every five years to ensure the achievement of progress towards its goals.

Such a scheme would be similar to the existing autism strategy which aims to improve provisions and understanding while closing the employment gap.

The Bill, which has received Government and cross-party backing, was welcomed by more than 130 Down’s syndrome charities and support groups in a joint statement last month.

Tommy Jessop, an actor with Down’s who had a major role in the most recent series of the BBC crime drama Line of Duty, described the law as a “historic moment” and said it would “change lives forever”.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.