Failure by the NHS to adhere to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
This article was written by an anonymous guest author
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We are at a pivotal crossroads on our path towards a fairer society, faced with a monumental issue that, while hidden, carries unsettling implications.
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has repeatedly been implicated in serious violations of human rights, as outlined by the United Nations conventions on the rights of disabled persons. This is not merely an affront to international law; it’s a harsh, terrifying reflection of the suffering inflicted on people with disabilities under the pretext of health care provision.
The UK Government’s ratification of the UN Convention in 2008 was a potent commitment to protect disabled people’s rights, obligating domestic legislation to align with its principles. However, as we traverse through 2023, it’s distressingly apparent that the NHS has systematically breached this social contract, casually discarding the rights of the disabled.
The NHS’s Mental Health Act 1983 blatantly contravenes the UN Convention, notably:
• Article 12, Equal Recognition Before the Law: This Act permits restriction of legal capacity based on mental health status, infringing upon personal autonomy and decision-making rights.
• Article 14, Liberty and Security of the Person: This Act shockingly allows involuntary detention and treatment of people with mental health conditions based on their disability, violating their right to liberty and security.
• Article 15, Freedom from Torture or Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: This Act neglects to shield individuals from non-consensual treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy and psychosurgery, which could amount to torture or inhumane treatment.
These issues have persisted for years. In 2013, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture called for an outright ban on these reprehensible practices.
Regrettably, the proposed Mental Health Act reforms lack the depth needed to align the NHS fully with the United Nations Convention. A fragmented approach is grossly insufficient in addressing these grave infractions.
The field of psychiatry has largely remained reticent on this matter, often keeping these concerns concealed. The victims, who are often society’s most vulnerable, have their stories systematically suppressed.
Alarmingly, our media has mostly remained mute, a tacit accomplice to these profound human rights violations. The much-needed transparency is missing, replaced by a stifling silence that only magnifies the problem.
We must break this silence with knowledge, empathy, and decisive action. Disseminate this information broadly. Challenge the apathy that perpetuates these horrors.
We must unite and place collective pressure on the NHS to uphold its duty to protect the rights of disabled persons. The time for change is now. Let us stand together and navigate our society towards a future where health care is genuinely fair, and human rights are unreservedly respected.