Find out what was discussed at the most recent Being Human event looking at the right to health.

The ALLIANCE’s Health and Social Care Academy hosted an event exploring the key findings from the report ‘Investigating knowledge and understanding of the right to health’. The discussion, which was chaired by Mhairi Snowden, Director of Human Rights Consortium Scotland, also explored emerging themes including that groups most likely to have their rights breached were less likely to feel informed and confident to claim their rights and the role that duty bearers play in understanding and upholding the right to health. 

The event aimed to help attendees: 

  • Understand the barriers to accessing information on the right to health 
  • Find out about potential solutions through the report recommendations 
  • Have an awareness of good practice and examples of how organisations are supporting people to understand their rights 

Helen Oxley, who conducted the research for the report, reflected on the research process and outlined some of the key findings. These were that overall people didn’t have a good a good understanding of the right to health or what duty bearers’ responsibilities are. The research also found that the language of human rights can be inaccessible and processes for claims when rights have been breached can be long, complex and inaccessible. Language was identified as a significant barrier to understanding the right to health, especially when diversity and cultural differences are not considered. She then outlined some of the report’s recommendations which included calls for a shared and accessible language of human rights and improvements in complaints processes and a proposed single point of contact. 

Panellists Wendy Halliday, Director for See Me, and Gordon Paterson, Director of Social Care for NHS Education for Scotland (NES), reflected on the report’s findings and their implications for their organisations. Gordon Paterson explained that one of NES’s strategic aims is to support better rights based care and outcomes for everyone in Scotland and that its new strategy is focused on mitigating health inequalities, promoting human rights and increasing involvement of people with lived experience. He highlighted some existing resources to support raising awareness of rights among the healthcare workforce, but felt that the report could be a catalyst for NES to refocus on its role in promoting and upholding rights and explore further the right to health with colleagues in other organisations. Wendy Halliday talked about the stigma and discrimination faced by people accessing mental health services, particularly by people from racialised and marginalised communities and people living with complex mental health conditions. She emphasised the importance of promoting individuals’ lived experience to highlight where rights are not being met and advocating for system-wide change. She has highlighted See Me’s recent campaign ‘If it’s okay’ which aims to tackle the negative impact that shame can have on people with a mental illness.  

Participants were then given the opportunity to ask questions. One of the key themes of the discussion was around the need to shift from raising awareness to making rights real by, for example, improving complaints processes and addressing digital skills gaps which can act as a barrier to both accessing services and making claims. Additionally, participants highlighted issues relating to independent advocacy, access and availability of services and how to meaningfully involve people in coproduction.  

This event was part of the Academy’s Being Human series which explores the importance of embedding human rights into health and social care policy and practice. 

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