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Human rights and
Main title healthcare
Ellie Keen
6th October 2011
What do human rights mean to you?
What are human rights?
A set of rules for governments
To respect and protect individuals
Based on common values
Developed over centuries
Now set down in law
Core human rights values
“…recognition of the inherent
dignity and of the equal and
inalienable rights of all members
of the human family is the
foundation of freedom, justice
and peace in the world”
Universal Declaration of Human
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Right to life
Freedom from torture
Freedom of expression
Right to health
Right to liberty
Right to social care
Right to political
Right to be free from
Freedom from slavery
Right to housing
Freedom of thought
Right to work
Universal Declaration
of Human Rights
Bill of Human
International Covenant
on Civil and Political
European Social Charter
European Convention on
Human Rights (ECHR)
International Covenant on
Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights
Human Rights Act
Looking after health and human rights
Respect for
human rights
Human Rights Act 1998
 Brought the rights contained in
the European Convention of
Human Rights into UK law
 Can be used in domestic courts
 Everyone in the UK can rely on
the protection of the HRA
 Public authorities have a duty
to respect Convention rights
Types of rights
 Absolute rights
Can never be interfered with
 Non-absolute rights
Can be limited or restricted in certain
circumstances e.g. to protect the rights of
Looking at the rights…
Which of the rights in the Human Rights
Act do you think are absolute – ie allow
for no exceptions?
A framework for balancing rights
An interference with qualified rights may be
permissible if:
- Lawful
- Legitimate aim
- Necessary in a democratic society
Is there anything that you could do that would
interfere with the right less?
Human rights in action
A woman escaped from the secure hospital
where she had been detained under the Mental
Health Act and shortly afterwards, committed
suicide. She was already known to be a high
suicide risk patient.
Could human rights be used against the
Human rights in action
Supporting family life
A husband and wife had lived together for
over 65 years. He was unable to walk
unaided and relied on his wife to help him
moved around. She was blind and used him
as her eyes. They were separated after he
fell ill and was moved into a care home.
She was told she couldn’t go with him.
Could human rights be used?
Which rights may be engaged?
A woman with learning disabilities had
an operation. Her relatives visited her
and found her lying on her back, eyes
open but not saying a word. Usually
she was talkative and lively so they
asked the nurse what was wrong. The
nurse said ‘well, she can’t talk can she,
if she has a learning disability?’. The
woman was re-examined and found to
have had a minor stroke.
Human rights in action
A young man with childhood autism and a severe
learning disability lived with his father under an
extensive care package. The young man was
taken to a support unit for a few days while his
father was ill, and the local authority then decided
he should stay there indefinitely. The father was
not kept informed and both he and his son became
increasingly distressed by being kept apart.
Which rights could be used?
Human rights in action
A mentally ill foreign national was detained while
awaiting deportation, despite the evidence of
psychiatrists that detention was not appropriate.
While in detention he suffered hallucinations
involving four threatening men and was
prescribed anti-psychotic drugs. He also
continued to self-harm.
Could human rights be used to challenge his
Examples from your practice
 Can you think of examples from your work
which may invoke human rights?
 Which human rights are engaged?
 Could you use human rights to bring about
a change in practice?
State obligations
State parties have obligations to:
• Respect human rights – i.e. refrain from interfering
with the enjoyment of rights
• Protect human rights – i.e. prevent rights abuses by
third parties
• Fulfil human rights – i.e. pro-actively engage in
activities that strengthen access to and realisation of
What is a human rights based approach?
• The process: Ensuring that human rights
principles and standards guide all policies
and practice
• The outcome: Ensuring that duty-bearers
are able to meet their obligations and
rights-holders to claim their rights
• The aim: to further the realisation of all
human rights
The PANEL principles
PARTICIPATION in decisions which affect
their rights
ACCOUNTABILITY of those responsible
EMPOWERMENT to know their rights and
how to claim them
LEGALITY in all decisions through an
explicit link with human rights
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