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Rights in healthcare

Photo: Information on the standards you have a right to expect from audiology services

In England, the NHS constitution sets out the principles and values of the NHS in England, and explains the rights and responsibilities of patients, public and staff.

The rights of NHS patients include the right:

  • to receive care and treatment that is appropriate to you, meets your needs and reflects your preferences
  • to access certain services commissioned by NHS bodies within maximum waiting times, or for the NHS to take all reasonable steps to offer you a range of suitable alternative providers if this is not possible
  • not to be unlawfully discriminated against in the provision of NHS services
  • to be treated with a professional standard of care, by appropriately qualified and experienced staff
  • to be treated with dignity and respect, in accordance with your human rights.

The Council for Disabled Children (CDC) has an interactive and accessible online tool for children and young people to help them understand their rights in the health system. This online tool is aimed at children and young people in England but some of the information may still be helpful for children and young people in other parts of the UK.

The Constitution doesn’t apply to NHS services in other parts of the UK but other rights or support are in place:

The Equality Act 2010 (England, Scotland and Wales) and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland) also mean that health services must make reasonable adjustments to make sure that you can access their services.

An example of a reasonable adjustment might be making sure that the health service books any communication support that your child needs to attend any health appointments. For more information see the Rights to Equality page for your nation.

What you have a right to expect from your audiology service

You have a right to expect certain standards from your child’s audiology service. Below are some quality standards guides for different areas of audiology, as well as vision care for deaf children.

These guides are written for professionals, but you may want to read them yourself or share them with the professionals supporting your child.


Transition to adult services

Your child will usually move from child to adult audiology services between the ages of 16 and 21. We’ve produced some quality standards guidelines that can help you and your child know what you have a right to expect during this transition: Quality Standards: Transition from paediatric to adult audiology services.

Find out more at Audiology services.


  • Quality standards used by the Newborn hearing screening programme.
  • Children’s audiology services can become ‘accredited’ (officially recognised as meeting independently assessed standards). This can help to raise standards and reassure parents that their child will receive a high level of care.

Find out if your child’s audiology service is accredited by going to our Listen Up! campaign page



Your right to ask for a second opinion

Legally the NHS doesn’t have to provide second opinions, but in practise doctors rarely refuse. Find out more at Audiology services

Your right to complain if you’re not happy

If you’re unhappy with your child’s audiology service then we encourage you to express your opinion and to explain how services could be improved. Find out more at Audiology services

Similarly, if you’re unhappy about any other health service, such as your GP, speech and language therapist or hospital, visit the website for the service provider for information about how to give feedback or make a complaint.

Your right to accessible information

Under the Equality Act 2010 (or Disability Discrimination Act 1995), health bodies must make reasonable adjustments so that you can access health services. This includes making sure that information is accessible and that you get the communication support you need.

In England, since 31 July 2016, all organisations that provide NHS care or adult social care are legally required to follow the Accessible Information Standard.

The Standard aims to make sure that people who have a disability or sensory loss get information that they can access and understand, and any communication support that they need.

Find out more at

In Wales the All Wales Standards for Accessible Communication and Information for People with Sensory Loss were launched in December 2013. The standards set out the level of service that people with sensory loss have a right to expect from their healthcare providers.

In Scotland, the Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities states that you have the right to be given information in a way you can understand and which helps you make informed choices about your health care.

Your child’s right to access health services independently

As your child gets older they have a right to expect to be able to access health services independently. Our My Life, My Health resources for deaf young people, parents and health professionals help support deaf young people’s access to healthcare.

An important part of your child accessing healthcare independently is them having the right communication support. See the above section on Your right to accessible information for more information.