Discrimination in the health area is defined as the restriction or violation of human rights to be attended by a professional health worker.

Today, more than 50% of the world’s population has suffered from discrimination at some point. Whether in society, work, in the family, or health area.

Situations of discrimination and restriction on health services aren’t the exception. But, any situation that arises, that is considered discrimination, is punishable under the Equality Act 2010.

The law of Equality Act 2010 establishes that under no reason, any individual, can be discriminated against and deprived of medical services that help their health.

Furthermore, this law protects all individuals from discrimination in any field of work and society. This means that if you have suffered discrimination, you have the right to file criminal charges under the Equality Act 2010.

How do you know if you are being discriminated against?

For you to identify if you are being discriminated against, you must know how to differentiate between the different situations that may arise at the time of discrimination.

Following the Equality Act 2010, there are four situations of discrimination, which the affected must know before establishing a complaint:

  1. Only certain types of acts are considered discrimination.
  2. There are different types of discriminatory treatment.
  3. Unfair and discriminatory treatment is punishable by law, only if it is for certain reasons.
  4. Discriminatory treatment is punishable by law, only if it is carried out by certain types of people.

Besides, you must know which the protection characteristics of individuals protected by law are.

  1. Age.
  2. Sexual orientation.
  3. Religion or beliefs.
  4. Disability.
  5. Pregnancy or in post and prenatal stage.
  6. Be married or in a civil relationship.
  7. Race, including skin color, ethnicity, nationality, or country of origin.
  8. Sex.
  9. Gender change.

Once you know all the terms and situations under which discrimination can be punished by law, you have the right to file a complaint. If you are a third and you’ve witnessed an act of discrimination, you can also take action.

This is called, a positive action, in which you can file criminal charges as a third if the affected person meets certain characteristics:

  1. If the person has special needs.
  2. If you are at a disadvantage to the aggressor.
  3. They are under-representation in some job or activity.

What and how is the unfair treatment?

The law of Equality Act 2010, declares that the following acts can be considered illegal if the affected person has some protected characteristic.

  1. Deny the right to medical service or medical intervention as a patient.
  2. Give you a service of low quality or worse than that of the rest of the patients.
  3. Cause you harm.
  4. Completely stop of medical care.
  5. Behave in a way that offends or intimidates you.
  6. Punish you and discriminate against you for filing a complaint or helping someone who was experiencing bullying.

Discrimination can occur in one or more of these ways:

  1. Direct discrimination: treating someone with a protected characteristic, different or worse than others.

Example: Treating an individual differently for who they are, who they think they are, or because they are related to someone else.

Exceptions: The law of Equality Act 2020 says that exist some sort of situations in which a health worker can provide a different type of health care if the patient has a protected characteristic, and this wouldn’t be direct discrimination.

Example: If the patient due to a physical or mental disability must be attended in any apart area or differently to ensure their well-being and health.

  1. Indirect discrimination: Establishing rules or opinions in place that apply to everyone, but that puts someone with a disability at a great disadvantage.

Example: The affected person cannot communicate or request medical help because the hospital doesn’t provide a translator-interpreter. Or you don’t have the necessary financial resources.

  1. Harassment: Unwanted attention tied to a protected characteristic, that creates an offensive environment towards the individual, or that violates his rights as a person.

Example: Offensive words, teasing, or bad threats in the workplace, society, or health service places.

  1. Victimization: To mistreat someone for filing a discrimination complaint in any case.

Example: Requesting help and filing a discrimination complaint in a hospital, and then being excluded, disowned, and deprived of your rights by the staff.

It is important to know, that a health worker may make the decision not to provide medical help or to stop the patient’s intervention after evaluating his condition, and this wouldn’t be illegal. But if the decision is based and made by some protected characteristic, it is considered illegal.

Who shouldn’t discriminate against you in the health area?

  1. Medical professionals.
  2. Administrative staff.
  3. Managers.
  4. Security officers.
  5. Ambulance drivers.
  6. Cleaning staff.

These are people who must guarantee good service, the quality of medical care, and all the necessary resources to offer dignified treatment to any individual. That contains or does not contain any of the protected characteristics.

Important: The Equality Act 2020 doesn’t apply to Northern Ireland.

What does disability mean under the Equality Act 2010

An individual is considered disabled if they have a substantial or long-term condition that affects their physical or mental condition. And that affects his ability to perform normal activities or work.

What does a substantial disability mean?

A substantial disability is defined as a minor short-term condition that affects or decreases the time in which the individual can perform any activity.

What does a long-term disability mean?

Long-term disability is characterized by being a periodic illness or condition, or one that worsens over time, which lasts for more than twelve months. Such as kidney insufficient, heart problems, or respiratory illness.

If you are a disabled person, it may be more difficult for you to obtain or seek medical attention. This law establishes that hospitals, health centers, and surgery services must eliminate all barriers that prevent the patient from enjoying a good health service.

And in this way, guarantee the emotional and mental stability of the patient, while he is under medical intervention. Without being discriminated in any way.

When adjustments should be made in disability care?

Hospitals, clinics, and health centers must take all possible measures to eliminate any obstacle that prevents the patient from obtaining the necessary intervention.

Under the Equality Act 2020, it is acceptable if the changes are for the health and well-being of the individual. Such changes must be made by the staff of the health center, without being requested by the patient.

What changes should the medical team make when there is a disability?

  1. Change the way of working.

Each health center works under certain standards, to comply with what is necessary to guarantee health. But if someone with a disability presents, it will be necessary to modify the work procedure so that it is favorable for the person.

  1. Change or modify the place.

Hospitals and clinics must have easily accessible places for people with disabilities. Such as:

  • Elevators.
  • Wide corridors.
  • Bathrooms.
  • Orientation signs.
  • Equipped rooms.
  1. Provide extra services.

There are situations where the individual will need a certain type of care, necessary for their condition, these must be provided by medical personnel. For example:

  • Extra assistance.
  • Translator interpreters.
  • Portable audio devices for the hearing impaired.

¿What can you do if the health service doesn’t provide you the necessary treatment?

If the necessary adjustments are not made immediately by the medical staff, you can request it yourself. If the request is still rejected or ignored, you can file a discrimination complaint.

File a complaint of discrimination in health services.

If you suffer from discrimination and you are planning to file a complaint against a health center, we present you with certain terms that you must take into account.

  1. The legal process that involves a complaint of discrimination is long. Which can often be stressful and expensive.

In case of losing the legal case, you must pay a fine to the health center involved, which in many cases, it’s very high. So if you are thinking of suing, the first thing you should do is seek the advice of an experienced lawyer.

  1. To request a discrimination judgment, you must be clear about the terms and situations under which the Equality Act 2020 law is governed.

In case you have been treated unfairly, but it’s not considered illegal by law, you can still file a complaint, but not a trial.

  1. There are strict limits on the time you can file a complaint of discrimination. You have to file the complaint in a period less than 6 months from the day the act of discrimination took place.

This is important if you want your problem to be resolved, if this time is exceeded, you face the possibility that your case will be rejected.

  1. If you need financial aid for the lawsuit, you can contact the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS), who will help you find out if you can opt for financial aid for your case.
  1. In the event of a legal trial, you must present all the necessary evidence that the discrimination took place. Thus the judge can decide whether the act is illegal or not.
  1. On the other hand, the health organization also must present all the evidence for which no discriminatory act took place.

To obtain all the necessary evidence for the court, you must keep any type of digital or printed document that has been provided to you.

  1. After all the evidence was exposed the court can.
  • Establish that there was discrimination.
  • Order the health center to give you compensation.
  • Order the health center to do or not to do any activity.

Once you know all the conditions and laws on which the Equality Act 2020 is based, you can file a lawsuit to form in the court of your country.

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