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Ageism in the NHS and the Human Rights Act 1998: An Ethical and Legal Enquiry

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image of European Journal of Health Law

In the United Kingdom, the Human Rights Act 1998 came into force on 2 October 2000. This Act has implications for the National Health Service, that are speculative and to date largely untested in the Courts. The area considered here, is the way in which the Act may impact on age discrimination as it relates to provision of health care. Ageist policy and decision-making is analysed in conjunction with the Human Rights Act and Articles 2, 3, 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The rationality of ageism and the justifications used to support its practice are challenged. The equal right to life-saving treatment of elderly patients is defended as inviolable, unless offset by other reasonable considerations, which as argued should not be age per se.

Affiliations: 1: Imperial College School of Medicine, Department of Geriatric and General Medicine, Northwick Park Hospital, Watford Road, Middlesex HA1 3UJ, UK; 2: Chambers of David Phillips QC, 199 Strand, London WC2R 1DR, UK


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