Human Rights in Healthcare

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2007 National LGBT Conference
10 September 2007

Conference notes:

1.UNISON’s “Charter for Change for LGBT Equality”, with significant references to health and well being as well as service delivery in the healthcare setting;

2.The coming in to being of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights;

3.The inclusion in the Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) of equality, diversity and respect for human rights as a core dimension applying to all staff;

4.The joint production by the Department of Health and the British Institute of Human Rights of “Human Rights in Healthcare – A Framework for Local Action” emphasising the importance of applying human rights in healthcare settings.

Conference notes the vital importance of human rights in ensuring high quality services and believes this is of vital importance in healthcare settings especially where people are dependent on care or are unable to assert their wishes.

Examples of the importance of Human Rights Based Approaches (HRBAs) in healthcare settings can be seen in work with younger people, older people, people with learning difficulties and people with mental health problems. In addition all of us can become vulnerable when unwell or being looked after.

As such the recognition of human rights can play a key role in promoting high quality, personalised care.

In particular the use of human rights is important in some of the following areas:

A.Respect for one’s gender identity and sexual orientation;

B.Freedom of association and expression;

C.Right to privacy;

D.Protection from treatment which may be threatening and demeaning.

Practical examples might include:

I.Recognition of a person’s partner as their Next of Kin in a setting for older people or people with learning difficulties;

II.Respecting the confidentiality of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) service users with regard to their sexual orientation and gender identity;

III.Dealing effectively with homophobic, biphobic and transphobic harassment;

IV.Respecting the relationships of same sex parents when providing care to children and young people;

V.providing support to young people in schools where they may be experiencing homophobic bullying.

Conference calls therefore on the Service Group Executive to seek opportunities to:

a.Promote HRBAs in healthcare settings;

b.Seek to promote the UNISON Charter for Change for LGBT Equality at the national level which also addresses many of these issues;

c.Call for greater availability of training materials for healthcare staff to be able to meet the human rights and equality component of the KSF, including training on pre-registration courses.