[Voiceover of  Dr Charlotte Riley ]: Everybody has the right to healthcare. But everyone, more than that, has the right to be treated in a dignified manner and being able to make as many choices as possible.

[Text on screen]: 70 years of the National Health Service.

[Voiceover of  Dr Charlotte Riley]: The context of the NHS being created, there’s a kind of national context and an international context. The international context is obviously the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights is signed in 1948, just after the NHS is created. And that’s at least partly born out of the experience of the Second World War and the idea that it’s important that governments nationally and internationally work together to protect people’s rights, and so that kind of creates a sense that civilians deserve healthcare and obviously soldiers had been receiving healthcare for injuries or illnesses that they receive in the army. So it’s all kind of creating a context where people in Britain start to think this is something that is realistic and reasonable to demand from your government.

[Text on screen with photo]: William Beveridge.

[Voiceover of  Dr Charlotte Riley]: And then that’s all brought together by the Beveridge Report in 1942 where they set out the idea that one of the big giants…

[Text on screen with photo]: Big giants.

[Voiceover of  Dr Charlotte Riley]: …that has to be slayed by the British Government is disease. Want, disease, ignorance, poverty and idleness. So bringing about the National Health Service is part of bringing those war-time reforms. Im order to have the best healthcare, it is absolutely vital to think about human rights. There are lots of different ways in which your human rights might be affected by issues around health and healthcare. So for example the rights of people with disabilities which are protected under various different forms of human rights legislation. There’s questions of rights around your ability to seek and receive treatments. Do you have the right to ask for a specific type of treatment? They’re quite important questions. We should keep fighting for the NHS because it is one of the best British institutions. It is one of the things that defines us as a nation. It has always been staffed by people who are trying to do the very best they can, and I think that’s something worth fighting for.

The NHS is an incredible human rights achievement

Published on 29 Nov 2019

The NHS plays an important role in upholding certain human rights. It’s been 70 years since the beginning of the National Health Service. We think that’s something to shout about!

The NHS is a historic public system that we, the UK, should pride ourselves on. It is an image of equality, where you can expect to be free from discrimination while using the healthcare service. Today, we spoke to Dr Charlotte Riley about what the NHS embodies for human rights, and why it’s so vital that we continue to fight for its protection so that it may continue to protect us.

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