What can you do if you think your human rights, or the rights of someone you know have been breached or violated in a healthcare setting?

Examples of Rights in Action:


Using Art.3: The right to be free from torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

What is inhuman treatment? Inhuman treatment or punishment includes: serious physical assaults, psychological interrogation, inhuman detention conditions or restraints, failing to give medical treatment or taking it away from a person with a serious illness, threatening to torture someone, if the threat is real and immediate.

Case Study:
A young man with mental health problems was placed in residential care. During a visit, his parents noticed unexplained bruising on his body. They raised the issue with managers at the home, but their concerns were dismissed. They were also told that they were no longer allowed to visit their son. The parents approached the home and raised their son’s right not to be treated in an inhuman and degrading way and their right to respect for family life. As a result, the ban on their visits was revoked and an investigation carried out into the bruising on the son’s body.



Using Art. 8: The right to respect for private and family life

The courts have interpreted the concept of ‘private life’ in a very broad way. It covers things like your right to choose your sexual identity, your lifestyle, and the way you look and dress. It also includes your right to control who sees and touches your body. For example, this means that public authorities cannot do things like leave you undressed in a busy ward, or take a blood sample without your permission. The concept of private life also covers your right to develop your personality and to develop friendships and other relationships. This includes a right to participate in essential economic, social, cultural and recreational activities of the community.

Case Study:
Rachel Gunter (by her litigation friend and father Edwin Gunter) v South Western Staffordshire Primary Care Trust (2005)

A disabled woman who required 24 hour care wanted to be cared for at home with her family, through an extensive care package. However, her local Primary Care Trust (PCT) wanted to place her in residential care due to the high cost of home care, and because of the higher quality of care in the residential care home in the event of a crisis. The High Court found that the PCT had not properly considered the impact of this on her family life. They had not taken into account her improved quality of life at home, or her own wishes to be placed at home. The PCT was therefore told to remake their decision, taking her right to respect for her family life into account.


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