In this video, from Human Rights Day 2020, Sarah talks about how she and her colleagues use the Human Rights Act Every day.

Sarah shared this story at the Lived Experience Roundtable that BIHR and Liberty held with the Independent Human Rights Act Review Panel. You can read more about this here.

About Sarah

Sarah is the Equality, Diversity and Human Rights lead for Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust a large mental health and learning disabilities trust. She has been involved in Human Rights Act work since 2014 when the Trust took part in the Connecting Human Rights to the Frontline project with BIHR and has developed this work into a range of areas.


How Sarah and her colleagues use the Human Rights Act:

Sarah works in a large NHS Trust which has been using the Human Rights Act to create positive change for people accessing services. The Trust has been doing specific work around restraint, seclusion and restrictive practices using the framework provided by the HRA for rights-respecting decision making and better outcomes for individuals and their families/loved ones.

In Sarah's Words

"I work in a large Mental Health and Learning disability trust and we provide care for people with LD and severe and enduring mental health issues many of whom have experienced trauma and abuse. As you can imagine many people are have times when they are extremely distressed and may want to take their own lives and we are very aware of the need to ensure that the interventions we use do not retraumatise them. The duty to protect the right to life means that sometimes we will use restrictive practices to keep the person safe and alive so we will use interventions such as restraint and seclusion.

The HRA provides us with an objective legal framework for examining those decisions and ensuring that what we are doing and how we are doing it is a lawful, legitimate and proportionate restriction of Articles 8 (psychological and physical integrity) and 5 (liberty) and that we don’t risk breaching people’s Article 3 rights freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment. I think consideration of the proportionality of the intervention is particularly important as it encourages us to explore other less restrictive interventions. So, for example we can restrain someone in a compassionate, caring way by talking to them when they are well about how to do it, talking to them all the way through the restraint and debriefing them afterwards.

In short, the Human Rights Act has given us a legal, objective, decision making framework, provided by no other law or policy, to ensure rights are protected and people and staff are safe. We’ve made human rights part of the Trust’s strategic aims. In its current form, the law is powerful and a framework for positive change for people and families accessing Trust services.”