A Barnstaple man’s eight-year battle to transform the care system is bearing fruit after being finally granted a face-to-face meeting with a Government minister.
John Barrass has campaigned for radical changes to the system and the way it is regulated following the death of his mother Vera in a private care home in 2009.
The document he produced, Care Means Care, Justice in Care, caught the attention of Prime Minister Theresa May, who requested a report on a meeting between Mr Barrass and the care minister.
Now Mr Barrass and North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones will hold a video conference with care minster Caroline Dinenage, where he hopes to start the process to bring about change in a ‘failing’ system.
He believes all-party debate is the only way to shake up an ailing care system in crisis.
Mr Barrass is set to put his concerns to care minister Ms Dinenage on April 25 and it is a big step in the right direction after an eight year investigation and campaign by Mr Barrass following the death of his mother.
In his report Care Means Care, Justice in Care, Mr Barrass raised concerns about the care she had received and called for a new single body to inspect, regulate and investigate complaints.
The case was raised in a House of Commons debate in 2016 by Mr Heaton-Jones and that led to the Prime Minister herself writing to Mr Barrass and requesting a full report of a meeting between him and the care minister.
Four care ministers and almost two years later, the meeting is about to happen. Mr Barrass was invited to parliament to meet Ms Dinenage but as a full-time carer for his father George, the journey was not possible and a video link was arranged instead.
Mr Barrass says the current care system is not working and needs a complete overhaul – including the creation of a single powerful body to inspect, investigate and regulate care homes.
He also wants to discuss issues regarding whistle-blowing, safeguarding, visitors’ rights, patients rights and duty of candour.
He said: “What is the point of putting billions into a system that isn’t working and has not for 30 years?
“This is about trying to get the minister to listen and understand what it is about, that she will promise me she will put a report to Theresa May and thirdly to take it further or call for an all-party debate on care.”
Mr Heaton-Jones said: “This will be an opportunity for Mr Barrass and myself to explain clearly to the minister the concerns we have about the regulation, inspection and complaints system for care homes.
“Mr Barrass has doggedly fought this campaign for many years now, and I am pleased he will now be able to bring the issue directly to the minister.
“It’s a complex situation and we won’t see change overnight, but Mr Barrass is right to be highlighting this and I am pleased to be able to help him to do so.”