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BMA calls on the Prime Minister to protect the Human Rights Act

Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA

6 December 2016

Dear Prime Minister,

It is now nearly twenty years since the coming into force of the Human Rights Act. As you know, it gives statutory codification to a series of fundamental rights and liberties that go to the heart of what it means to be a free human being in a civilised nation.

The BMA has a long tradition of protecting and promoting fundamental human rights in health care, both domestically and abroad. We champion the rights of professional independence and the deep interests of patients.

Doctors work at the interface between the individual and the state. The Human Rights Act helps clarify the scope of our liberties as patients, our obligations as doctors, and the nature of our professional freedoms. It provides clarity and reassurance. It resists overweening power, and protects the vulnerable.

Your Government has stated its intention to repeal the Human Rights Act and to replace it with a Bill of Rights. We have not seen the new Bill of Rights, but your commitment gives rise to an urgent question: which of the fundamental rights and freedoms in the Human Rights Act can we do without? We believe that these rights and freedoms are fundamental to the primary role of doctors in advocating and caring for patients.

Saturday the 10th of December is human rights day. We therefore urge you to reconsider. The Human Rights Act is simply too important to fall foul of short term political considerations. We join our voice with that of the British Institute of Human Rights and ask you to leave these fundamental rights and freedoms alone.

Yours sincerely

Dr Mark Porter

BMA council chair

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