Freedom from discrimination
One of the 12 statements in our document, Care and treatment: your rights and choices, covering the rights and services that a person with epilepsy can expect.
Care and treatment: your rights and choices says: ‘You have a right to be treated with dignity and respect and to not be discriminated against.’ People with epilepsy are protected under the Equality Act 2010, which makes discrimination unlawful. This includes discrimination on the basis of disability.
The NHS Constitution says:
"You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, in accordance with your human rights."
"You have the right not to be unlawfully discriminated against in the provision of NHS services including on grounds of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion, belief, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity or marital or civil partnership status."
The Code for Nurses and Midwives 2015 says:
"Your nurse or midwife is...respectful, putting care and safety first. They help and encourage you to take part in decisions about your care...and help you to access the care and support that you need. Your nurse or midwife listens to you and takes note of concerns. They respect your right to privacy and confidentiality"
"...make sure that any discriminatory attitudes and behaviours towards those receiving care are challenged."
The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of disability.
Under the Equality Act, someone has a disability if they have "a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities". Epilepsy is a physical, long-term condition. People with epilepsy are protected under the Equality Act, even if their seizures are controlled or if they don’t consider themselves to be ‘disabled’.
The Act covers healthcare, education, employment, and access to goods and services, such as shops, banks and public transport.
Under the Equality Act 2010, you do not have to disclose that you have a disability or that you are a carer for someone who does. However, if you do tell people this, for example an employer, they can make sure they treat you fairly, and avoid various different types of discrimination, including:
- perceived discrimination – treating someone unfairly by assuming that they have a disability, and that this will affect their ability to carry out day-to-day activities (for example, assuming that a person’s epilepsy will mean they can’t do a job as well as someone without epilepsy)
- associative discrimination – treating someone unfairly because they are connected to someone else with a disability. If you have a carer they are protected against any discrimination due to their association with you. For example, not being promoted at work because they are also your carer
- indirect discrimination – treating everyone the same in a way that puts someone with a disability at a disadvantage (for example, a rule that ‘everyone must use the stairs’ is unfair for people who use wheelchairs)
- discrimination arising from disability – treating someone unfairly because of something connected with their disability (for example, telling someone with a visual impairment they can’t bring their guide dog to work, without a justifiable reason).
Under the Equality Act 2010, you do not have to disclose that you have a disability, although there are some situations where it might be helpful to do this.
Find out more about employment and issues that affect you when you’re at work.
Find out more about issues affecting carers.
Information produced: January 2019
Our document, Care and treatment: your rights and choices explains your rights and the services that you can expect as someone with epilepsy.
Managing your treatment is an important part of managing your epilepsy, and seeing whether your medication is working. This might include having a care plan, including a treatment plan.
The decision whether to start taking anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) can be difficult, and there is a lot to think about. Here we look at the benefits and risks of taking, or not taking, AEDs.