chapter  4
18 Pages

THE SCOPE OF IMPACT OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT 1998 ON HEALTHCARE AND NHS RESOURCE ALLOCATION

ByWendy Outhwaite

The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), which came fully into force on 2 October 2000, will have a significant impact on the practice of medicine in the UK as it brings the Articles of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) into domestic law. Inevitably, public authorities involved in healthcare will be faced with new challenges. As the law is in a state of development, it is impossible at this stage to predict the future with certainty. Much will depend on the attitude of the courts. On the one hand, the courts may embrace the existing jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) with enthusiasm, even if it changes our own domestic law. Alternatively, the courts may attempt to apply the ECHR in such a manner as would inevitably result in the same outcome as under the existing domestic law. Accurate predictions are therefore impossible. Some guidance can be gleaned both from the Convention jurisprudence and the early cases decided by the domestic courts with the Convention in mind.