The Bishop of Ripon, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, has taken the rare step of writing to MPs whose constituencies are within the diocese she ministers to ask them to lobby for restrictions to be lifted.
Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) guidance states that care home residents who leave their home for a visit to see family members must self-isolate for 14 days on return to the care home even if they test negative for coronavirus before and after the visit.
In a letter to four MPs, including Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, the Bishop wrote: “I am very concerned indeed about the impact on the physical and mental well-being, and indeed the human rights of individuals of diverse ages and vulnerabilities.
“With that in mind, I ask what sort of society we wish to be as we emerge from the pandemic crisis? Given that it is further likely we will be living with covid for a long time, it is of grave concern that our most vulnerable citizens will be treated in such a restrictive way that is hard to justify for a prolonged period.”
She has now called for the four MPs, Nigel Adams, Rishi Sunak, Andrew Jones and Julian Smith, to lobby the government to change the restrictions to allow care home residents to spend time with families.
It follows the work of lobby group John’s Campaign, who have mounted a legal challenge against the government with the help of solicitors Leigh Day. The campaign group say that the restrictions contravene equality and human rights laws.
Almost every care home resident has been offered at least one dose of the vaccine since roll-out began in December last year.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, Bishop Hartley said it was the first time she has directly lobbied MPs since being ordained in 2018.
She said: “I’ve spoken to MPs before but this is the first time I’ve done a co-ordinated, pro-active email.
“Part of my public role as a Bishop is to look out for the last, the lost and the least and speak truth to power when that needs to happen.”
The DHSC has been approached for comment.