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Wilful neglect to be made an offence 13/10/2014 Consultation launched on new legal protections against ill-treatment or wilful neglect in the NHS or social care in Scotland.

Wilful neglect to be made an offence

People receiving NHS or social care in Scotland are to have new legal protections against ill-treatment or wilful neglect, in proposals put forward by the Scottish Government. It has published a consultation seeking views on the introduction of new legislative measures that will make it a criminal offence to deliberately mistreat or neglect people receiving care.

This will add to existing laws that already make it an offence to deliberately neglect or mistreat mental health patients or adults with incapacity, extending the legal protection to everyone using NHS or social care services in all health and care settings.

“The Scottish Government is only proposing to make deliberate acts of mistreatment an offence,” said Health Secretary Alex Neil. “We are absolutely not seeking to criminalise instances of genuine error and accident, and these will continue to be dealt with through the existing arrangements.”

The consultation will run until 9th January 2015. It aims to seek views on a number of areas which will shape the development of legislation.

These include whether the offence only applies to care delivered in formal health and social care services, whether the offence should be based on the actions of an individual or the harm caused, and whether the offence should apply to organisations as well as individuals.

The consultation will also seek views on the penalty for individuals and organisations convicted of wilful deliberate neglect or mistreatment. The Scottish Government has proposed applying the existing penalties for offences of wilful neglect in respect of mental health patients and adults with incapacity, which include a prison sentence and/or fine.


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