Health

ADVICE NI’S HELPLINES REMAIN OPEN

We will not be providing face-to-face advice or training for the foreseeable future. We will contact existing advice clients by phone. Our staff will continue to support our members and can be reached via telephone and email as usual.

We are working hard to move our training, where possible, to digital. For any queries, please contact our training team at [email protected]

We can only provide advice to people living in Northern Ireland. 

Helpline contact details:

Welfare Changes ring 0808 802 0020 or email [email protected]
Tax & Benefits ring 0800 988 2377 or email [email protected]
Business Debt ring 0800 083 8018 or email [email protected]
Debt Action ring 0800 028 1881 or email [email protected]
EU Settlement Scheme ring 0800 138 6545 or email [email protected]
For Historical Institutional Abuse advice and support call 02890 645919 email [email protected]

Body
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Your health is your wealth so looking after your body and keeping a positive frame of mind will only add to the quality of your life.

A doctor speaks with an older man.That is why our guide to your health and well-being should be essential reading as it will help you enjoy life all the more. This is especially important too as we live in an aging society and mental health issues are on the increase.  

If you fall ill, though, the last thing you or your family want to think about is all the questions we may have regarding our health rights.

Therefore, we provide easy-to-find answers for your health matters.  

If it is a minor ailment or concern, visit our local health services section as it includes information about your local doctor, dentist, and pharmacy. Otherwise, if you are preparing to go into hospital or are already receiving treatment there, we have the information to hand for hospital stays

Indeed, we signpost where you can get help with costs of health care or advice if you have Health and Social Care complaint.

General health rights and entitlements

We have listed your general health rights below in alphabetical order. Further information regarding specific entitlements, please go to the relevant section.

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Access

Services should be accessible to all who need them without discrimination.

Your gender, sexuality, age or disability should not affect your treatment or access to treatment.

The majority of health services are available free
 of charge. You should, therefore, receive care and treatment based on your need and not on your ability to pay.

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Access to Medical Records

You have the right to see your health records and the medical reports written about you, subject to certain safeguards. You have the right to access these under the Data Protection Act (2018) and General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) (see below). 

You also have the right to be informed of the uses of the information and who has access to it. The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and Data Protection Act (2018) gives you the right of access to personal data held on you through a Subject Access Request (SAR) free of charge in most cases, this can be requested by a third party if you have given your consent for them to access your information.

The request need not be in writing. Organisations must comply with comply with the request without undue delay, and in most cases within one month however they may additional time to consider the request. This can take up to an additional two months.  If the request is manifestly unfounded or excessive, then a ‘reasonable fee’ may be charged for the administrative costs of complying with the request.

They may charge a fee if you request further copies of the information you have previously requested. If you require further information on DPA 2018 by going to the ICO website on your rights of access

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Complaints

You have the right to make a complaint if you are unhappy with the care or treatment you have received.

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You have the right to give or withhold your consent to medical treatment or examination even if withholding treatment could result in your death. You are entitled to base your decisions on religious beliefs and value systems as long as you understand the implications of your decision. Even if the decision to withhold consent seems irrational to other people that choice is yours. When seeking your consent the medical professional should help you make your own, informed choice.

Even if the decision to withhold consent seems irrational to other people that choice is yours. When seeking your consent the medical professional should help you make your own, informed choice.

Communicating consent

If you cannot indicate your wishes due to communication difficulties, reasonable steps should be taken to ensure that you can communicate your decision. This may require steps such as communication aids, the use of an interpreter or the use of a speech and language therapist.

Giving Consent

Simply going to see a doctor can be regarded as implied consent for examination or treatment, whilst consent in hospitals, for an operation, for example, can be obtained orally or in writing.

When you are asked by a doctor, nurse or therapist to agree to any form of examination, treatment or care you are always free to say no or to request more information before making a decision.

You should not be forced to make a decision before you are ready to do so. If you require more time to consider your decision, you should request this or say no to the treatment or investigation.

Consenting to help training or research

You also have the right to give or withhold consent to taking part in research or student training. If you are asked to allow students to be present when you are treated and you are not comfortable with this, you can say no.

This should not affect the quality of care you receive in any way whatsoever. The same applies if you are asked to take part in research. You do not have to participate and this should not affect the quality of your care.

When is consent not required?

It is important to note that a doctor can examine or treat you without your consent if:

  • You are unconscious and cannot
    indicate consent
  • You are detained under the Mental Health (NI) Order 1986
  • You are temporarily incapable of giving consent, for example,
    due to alcohol or drugs
  • You have a notifiable disease or are the carrier of a notifiable disease
  • Your life is in danger and you cannot
    indicate your wishes
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Emergency Care

You should receive emergency care and treatment when required.

If needed instead, we have information about out of hours doctors' service and emergencies.

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Information and Informed Choice

You have the right to have any proposed treatment, its risks and any alternatives properly explained to you. This will allow you to make an informed decision about your care and treatment.

You should be given clear information about treatment or care. This information may include:

  • What is wrong with you
  • What treatment is available or needs to be carried out
  • What progress you are making and how this may change the options open to you
  • Clarification if you are unsure if any of this information

You can request that staff keep a friend or relative informed about your progress too.

Please Note

Doctors should be truthful and thorough in response to questions asked about your care or treatment. However, if the doctor
believes it is in the patient's best interests, they can withhold information.

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Your Wishes and Involvement

You should be involved, either directly or through representatives, in discussions and decisions regarding your care and treatment. Insofar as possible, you should have your wishes regarding your care and treatment taken into account.

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