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Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid x Jaar 2015 x
Artikel

Challenges and obstacles to access to justice in health care

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2015
Trefwoorden patients’ rights, disciplinary law, medical negligence, right to complain
Auteurs Aart Hendriks
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    In the Netherlands, patients have a large number of options to express their dissatisfaction about the services provided by health care providers and can institute all kind of (quasi) legal procedures. None of these procedures was however introduced to ensure patients’ right to access to justice. Access to justice for health care providers confronted with complaints by patients is even less guaranteed. An analysis of Dutch law and practice learns that the access to justice has not found an inroad in the health care sector yet. This is not to suggest that patients lack legal rights, but if access to justice was taken as a yardstick to measures laws against the health care sector, they would have looked differently.


Aart Hendriks
Aart Hendriks is Professor in Health Law at Leiden University, the Netherlands, legal advisor to the Royal Dutch Medical Association, and substitute judge at the District Court of Rotterdam. He has published extensively on health and human rights issues. He serves as advisor to various national and international organizations, is board member of a number of administrative bodies, and is editor of several scientific journals in the field of health, medicine, and human rights.

    In the course of it short existence, Socio-legal studies (SLS) in the Anglo-Saxon world has burgeoned into a rich and variegated field. Reviewing it is therefore a challenging task. I begin with some general reflections and an outline of recent developments. Although these indicate an extremely vibrant field, concerns have been expressed for the future. In my discussion of these, I argue that our analysis of SLS needs to be historicised since the emergence of SLS is connected to processes of social modernization and democratization. The erosion of these processes by neo-liberal discourses and policies is the background to a discussion of my own research into the impact of the cuts to civil legal aid in England and Wales. This leads me to conclude that the fundamental dissonance between neo-liberal rationality and social science may portend a difficult future, in particular for empirical work; however, I note too that other developments such as the ongoing juridification of society and new social media may make continued SL engagement irresistible.


Hilary Sommerlad
Hilary Sommerlad is professor of Law and Research Director of the Centre for Professional Legal Education and Research, University of Birmingham, and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. Dr. Sommerlad’s research interests are access to justice, the cultural practices of the professional workplace and diversity. She is Articles Editor of Legal Ethics, and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Law and Society and the International Journal of the Legal Profession.
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