Human rights and access to surgery operations

Tom Condliff, 63, became the first man to take legal action against his primary care trust (PCT) under section 8 of the Human Rights Act (HRA), after the trust refused to fund the £5,500 operation that his lawyers said was necessary to extend his life. Condliff is an obese diabetic who was told he had few months to live. He argued that the North Staffordshire PCT had an obligation to take into consideration article 8 of the HRA (right to a private and family life) when making a decision about whether to fund his operation. Eventually, he lost his case. However, the trust backed down and agreed to pay for the operation, which has extended Condliff’s life expectancy. The European Court of Human Rights will examine the case shortly; a ruling in favour of Condliff could have wide implications for both patients and the NHS.

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