The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by the Spinal Injuries Association

  The Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) is the leading national user-led organisation supporting the interests of 40,000+ people in the United Kingdom who have sustained a spinal cord injury (SCI). SIA has a membership of over 5,000 people who have sustained a SCI.

  SIA believes that after hearing evidence on 18/11/08, regarding the merits of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with a disability treaty, and how it will greatly benefit and advance the rights of all disabled people in the UK and across the world, the Joint Committee on Human Rights should recommend to the UK Government that they ratify the convention without delay and without any reservations.

  Indications are that the UK Government is stalling on ratifying the Convention and has indicated that it intends to reserve on some crucial areas. These include:

    —  Education.

    —  Armed Forces.

    —  Mental Capacity.

    —  Asylum/Immigration.

  The Convention allows for the progressive realisation of social and economic rights, so reserving is unnecessary. SIA believes that Human Rights are universal and something that Government's can not pick and choose—So why does the UK wish to continue established discriminatory practice?

  Fourty-one Governments have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. They meet in New York (1st week of November 2008) to consider implementation. Because the UK has not yet ratified the convention we will not be present, despite having played a leading role in creating this first Human Rights' Treaty of the 21st Century.

  It is vital that the UK ratifies the Convention to enable current and future practices and policies that affect the lives of disabled people to be scrutinized against the rights laid out in the Convention. These rights should be enshrined in UK law, policy and practices. All current laws, policies or practices that do not fully meet the spirit of the Convention should be reviewed and altered in order to comply with the Convention.

  For Example:

    Article 25, paragraph b of the Convention (Health) states; "Provide those health services needed by persons with disabilities specifically because of their disabilities, including early identification and intervention as appropriate, and services designed to minimize and prevent further disabilities, including among children and older persons".

  SIA believes that upon diagnoses of a SCI, that a recognised SCI Centre should be notified, and providing no medical complications prevent it, the patient should be transferred to a recognised SCI Centre within 48 hours. Further, once the SCI condition is confirmed the SCI management should be in consultation with the specialist SCI Centre until a safe transfer can be affected. The benefits of such a policy are that the patient's treatment is guided by a multi-disciplinary experienced Staff and they will therefore benefit from:

    —  Specialist treatment & rehabilitation.

    —  Peer & Psychological Support.

    —  Education in managing their SCI.

    —  Reduced risks of complications arising from their SCI condition, some of which can be life threatening.

    —  Better long term outcomes of their condition.

    —  Reduced stay in hospital.

  SIA has undertaken a full review of the state of the UK SCI Service and has found that approx 20% of people having a SCI never gain access to a SCI Centre which is in direct conflict with Article 25, paragraph b of Convention.

  SIA has made some clear recommendations regards how the above gap in the UK SCI service can be plugged and we are currently lobbying Government to implement them.

  SIA believes that if the Government had ratified the Convention without reservations our campaign to Preserve & Develop this specialized service would have more leverage. The service would improve and more people would have access to a SCI Centre after having a SCI. In turn those people would be better able to manage their condition, lessening their chance of being re-admitted to hospital for treatment due to SCI related complications and enable them to take a full and worthwhile part in society.

3 November 2008

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