This week we posted a thread on twitter about why and how Human Rights must be the framework for commissioning.

The thread was hugely popular as many recognised our key concern: that human rights is too often only discussed when addressing failures in services, but commissioning from a human rights perspective is all about preventing poor outcomes and focussing on the person. Below is a reworking of the original thread which you can find here or on PDF format here.

This week we attened a NHS England Expert Reference Group on the Use of Force where we presented on why using a human rights approach is vital for addressing the use of Restrictive Practices in NHS Commissioned Care Settings (and indeed any other service!) This week we have also been delivering staff training sessions at Manchester Health and Care Commissioning (MHCC).

Culture of Respect for Human Rights

During both these sessions we shared how an often forgotten aim of the Human Rights Act was to help support a “culture of respect for human rights”. This is about the way all public services and policy happens, not simply about court judgements. Court judgement are vital but if a judgement is happening, it means that things have already failed.

During our NHS England Manchester HCC sessions, we asked how many NHS staff, commissioners, and commissioned services could truly agree that they are part of a culture of respect for human rights. And how many of the people using services, families and carers in the room felt this was their experience.The answer was not many.

We looked at how the Human Rights Act means that human rights should be sitting across all the decisions authorities are making, that safeguarding, risk management, blanket policies, restraint etc etc etc need to comply with human rights, because it’s the law. So few people know this.  There is often a feeling that we already know every thing about human rights. Yet our experience delivering training around the UK has shown that very few people can name half of our 16 rights. Even less can identify what practical issues these engage and less still what the Human Rights Act legal duty means for commissioning, delivering or accessing services.

But this isn’t surprising. As is often the case, our interventions this week were the first time people were having a
practical conversation about what human rights means for their work and lives.

Whether an NHS or commissioned service provider is meeting their legal duty to respect, protect and fulfil
people’s human rights depends on the actions of their staff (frontline and leadership) every single day; yet no one we meet during our two sessions thad received practical training on this.

What we did find, as is usually the case, is that once you are able to have an engaged, practical and relevant
discussion, supporting people to unpick human rights and apply them, the conversation changes. Those lightbulbs start going off!

Our Work: A Human Rights Approach

We shared our new “Traffic Light” review system that we’ve developed to support services to understand how well
they are doing on human rights (and how to improve), and the model we use to enable staff to “think and do” human rights in everyday decisions.

We shared how the people we work with are often highly sceptical about human rights as “another” thing to do, but
ultimately, with the right support, they can become the best advocates for human rights, making them real everyday. Supporting people and positively changing live.

So what did people tell us this week?


“I’m a nurse of 30 years, why haven’t I had training on human rights as the foundation for everything I do?”
“You think you know human rights, and then when you actually learn about what it means in practice you realise you really don’t”

And one of today's favourite bits of feedback from commissioning staff ...


"I will keep the list of human rights in the HRA to hand when reviewing incidents"


A practical commitment to action, because that's what human rights and our Human Rights framework can provide.

This Eleanor Roosevelt quote is always with us. Commissioning has the potential to make this happen, rather than responding to human rights abuses, we should be commissioning to protect human rights. It is possible.

Its not just us that recognises this need for human rights and commission, below are some tweets responding to our thread: