Mrs M has a 61-year-old brother L who was blind through thick cataracts after having been on a waiting list for 18 months. The GP and hospital told Mrs M it would be another nine months before L would receive surgery.
L had been a fiercely independent man with full social life and was a well liked and respected member of his local community. Through the loss of his sight he was no longer able to leave his house alone, take part in his social activities or bathe, shave and dress himself. He had sunk into deep depression, lost a considerable amount of weight through loss of appetite and enjoyment of food as he could no longer feed himself.
The Down’s Syndrome Association used the Human Rights Act to challenge L’s treatment. We argued that by L not receiving surgery to remove the cataracts from his eyes he was being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3 ECHR). We also argued that the primary care trust could be breaching Article 8 (ECHR) as he was no longer able to participate in the life of his community. We also maintained the possible breaches of Article 3 and Article 8 were the direct result of L being discriminated against because he had Down’s syndrome (Article 14 ECHR). We strongly believed a person without a disability would not have been left with such a serious visual impairment for such a long time.
Six weeks after our letter was sent to the GP, Chief Executive of the primary care trust and local MP, L received surgery. His old life has been resumed and he can be found most evenings holding forth at the bar of his local pub where he had been sorely missed.
The Down’s Syndrome Association aims to help people with Down's syndrome to live full and rewarding lives. The DSA uses the Human Rights Act to empower people with Down's syndrome, parents and carers to obtain better services from their local councils.
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