If you’ve been treated unfairly, it may be unlawful discrimination. If you've experienced unlawful discrimination, you can take action under the Equality Act 2010.
If you've been treated unfairly by a public authority, you may also be able to take action under the Human Rights Act 1998.
Read this page to find out more about using human rights law when you receive health and care services.
Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world. In the UK, these rights are contained in the Human Rights Act 1998. If a public authority breaches or doesn't respect your human rights, you can take action under the Act.
Public authorities must make sure they respect and protect your human rights when they provide health and care services. This may involve taking positive steps to ensure your human rights aren't breached. If a public authority has treated you badly, you may be able to use human rights law to make a complaint or take court action.
Public authorities include:
The following rights are the most relevant when you receive health or care services:
Your right to a private and family life means you should be able to enjoy your family relationships. It also means people should respect your privacy and your life choices, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights of others.
Article 8 protects you - for example when:
Article 3 protects you against serious harm and degrading treatment. It could be used - for example if:
Your right to liberty means you shouldn’t be detained or locked up against your will unless it’s allowed by the law - for example, if you’re detained under mental health legislation.
Article 5 protects you - for example when:
The right to life means that nobody can try to end your life. It also means that you have the right to be protected if your life is at risk. The NHS or a care provider should consider your right to life when they make decisions that might affect your life expectancy.
Article 2 can be used - for example if:
Your right to life doesn’t include a right to ask a medical practitioner to take your life.
The Human Rights Act protects you from discrimination in connection with your human rights under the Act. This means your human rights mustn’t be breached or protected differently because of certain things like sex, disability and race. This protection is wider than that of the Equality Act 2010.
Public authorities must respect your human rights when they provide you with health or care services - for example, when you’re in hospital or when social services assess your care needs.
They must also respect your human rights when they commission and plan services - for example, when a local authority contracts with a private organisation to provide care services.
If you have experienced discrimination, you can get help from the EASS discrimination helpline.
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