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Human Rights Commission inquiry into emergency healthcare

03 Jun 2014

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission today launches a Human Rights Inquiry into emergency healthcare.

The main focus of the inquiry is the participation of the public and those working in the health system. The Commission will consider the human rights obligations of the Northern Ireland Executive and other relevant public authorities, and identify the extent to which the human rights of people seeking emergency care are respected, protected and fulfilled in practice. We will also identify good practice and make recommendations for improvement.

NIHRC Interim Chair, John Corey said:

“We want to hear from anyone who has recently experienced emergency healthcare, and in particular from those who have sought care from an Accident and Emergency Unit. We also want to hear from the staff who provide this vital service.”

The Commission has opened a dedicated confidential Freephone line for the next three weeks (0800 028 6066). We encourage patients, family members, health care staff and representatives in the sector to share their experiences with us. Evidence can also be submitted via the NIHRC website (

Key to the Inquiry will be public hearings to take place in the autumn at various locations across Northern Ireland. The Commission will be calling Government representatives, public officials, staff, trade unions, patients and their family members to give evidence before the Inquiry.

The Panel of Inquiry will include Commissioner Marion Reynolds, assisted by Professor Paul Hunt, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health.

Mr Corey explained:

“The inquiry will consider the total experience of emergency health care from a human rights perspective. This includes the individual’s rights to respect for dignity, access to information, and their involvement in decision-making.

“The Commission will publish its final report and recommendations to the Northern Ireland Executive in April 2015.”


Further information:

For further information please contact Alice Neeson on: or 0771 7731873 (mobile).

Notes to editors

1. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body first proposed in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (1998) and established in 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act (1998). It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster

2. The phone line is open between 10am and 3pm, Monday to Friday, until 20 June

3. Media will be welcome to attend public hearings. Please contact the Press at NIHRC for more details: 028 90 243987, option 4

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