Health care rights and NHS rationing: turning theory into practice

Article English OPEN
Newdick, Christopher (2014)
  • Publisher: Elsevier
  • Journal: Revista Portuguesa de Saúde Pública, volume 32, issue 2, pages 151-157 (issn: 0870-9025)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1016/j.rpsp.2014.07.001

How should we understand the nature of patients’ right in public health care systems? Are health care rights different to rights under a private contract for car insurance? This article distinguishes between public and private rights and the relevance of community interests and notions of social solidarity. It discusses the distinction between political and civil rights, and social and economic rights and the inherently political and redistributive nature of the latter. Nevertheless, social and economic rights certainly give rise to “rights” enforceable by the courts. In the UK (as in many other jurisdictions), the courts have favoured a “procedural” approach to the question, in which the courts closely scrutinise decisions and demand high standards of rationality from decision-makers. However, although this is the general rule, the article also discusses a number of exceptional cases where “substantive” remedies are available which guarantee patients access to the care they need.
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