Human Rights in Healthcare

“Principle 1: The NHS provides a comprehensive service, available to all... It has a duty to each and every individual that it serves and must respect their human rights”
NHS Constitution

BIHR works in collaboration, using the rights in the Human Rights Act, and the duty it contains to make sure public authorities act compatibly with those rights, in innovative and exciting ways to transform organisational cultures, to deliver high-quality care, and ensure respectful and accountable services. BIHR’s “The Difference it Makes: Putting Human Rights at the Heart of Health and Care” is our creative and accessible resource which:
  • explains the links between human rights and health and care
  • makes the case for why a human rights approach makes sense, including top tips
  • provides real life examples of what a human rights approach looks like in practice and how this can improve outcomes for individuals and organisations  


BIHR has pioneered work on a human rights approach to healthcare, in partnership with the Department of Health (DH) and five NHS organisations. In 2008 we published the ‘Human Rights in Healthcare Framework’. The ethos behind this project work has been to take human rights out of NHS legal departments and apply them in the day to day running of NHS organisations, to help make improvements to services and to people’s lives. More information about our public sector work can be found at this page. In addition to our project work we run a range of open and in-house training services, and have helped build the capacity of thousands to health and care practitioners over the last 10 years. See our training page for more information about how we can help your organisation.


Voluntary and community sector organisations are increasingly playing an important role in health and social care – both as providers of services, and as advocates and campaigners on behalf of those in need of better care. Most are working on human rights issues, such as quality of care and treatment, but relatively few are using human rights to support their work.

BIHR’s Human Rights in Healthcare Project (BIHR VCS Project), funded through the Department of Health’s “Voluntary Sector Investment Programme: Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development Fund”, has been exploring ways of assisting voluntary sector organisations to use human rights to provide and advocate for better services. BIHR has worked closely with 20 organisations across England, with a sub-group focused on mental health. Together we have explored how human rights approaches can lead to changes in health and social care practice. Further information is available at this page or on our Community website (currently in the process of redevelopment).