Community view: Standing up for older people’s human rights
Janet Shapiro, Hornsey Pensioners Action Group
- Credit: PA Images
The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) takes up the defence of older people threatened with discrimination and loss of human rights. We note that increasing use of the internet and technology excludes those unable to afford broadband and those who lack the skills to exploit online access to services. Older people and low-income families are affected.
The NPC has a working party dedicated to encouraging and helping older people get online. It also challenges the exclusion of those dependent on telephone, post, payment by cheque etc. Our local group, Hornsey Pensioners Action Group hornseypag.org.uk, recognises the problem as we need to print out and post the monthly newsletter to those not on email.
During the pandemic patients have lacked face to face contact at their doctors’ surgeries; it is a bad time for communication. Yet an important consultation was scheduled for the launch of NHS Digital on July 1. Sharing of such data for research is important, but careful scrutiny is essential where ‘third party’ access to the data is allowed. Patients were given only until June 23 to opt out, most being totally unaware! While the deadline is now extended to September many people remain uninformed.
The NPC annual convention has traditionally been held at the seaside – Blackpool or Southport, but this year we have webinars. The opening rally on June 8 had excellent presentations. The first highlighted ‘The NHS Digital Grab – a plea for a full public consultation’ given by Rosa Curling and Cori Crider, directors of Foxglove. The second was given by Jackie Killeen, of the Equality & Human Rights Commission, ‘Equality, human rights and the laws that protect us all’. Gail Cartmail, TUC President, gave the third presentation. She reminded us of NPC founder Jack Jones and our roots within trade unionism. Gail emphasised the need for mutual support, respect for our elders and safe-guarding social services, including libraries. We must continue the fight for justice begun by Jack Jones.
However good virtual meetings may be, I still miss the seaside gatherings, sea air, sunshine or stormy weather and good company!