Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, but sometimes being ill can make it difficult to stand up for what you deserve. Knowing your rights can make you feel more able to deal with things that can affect your diagnosis, treatment and after-care
Everyone in the UK is entitled to free treatment for TB, and local doctors (GPs) can choose to treat anyone as an NHS patient, regardless of their status in the UK.
If you are unable to register with a GP, there may be organisations locally who can offer you help and advice. Ask a key worker or professional who is close to you for more information. Remember, you will receive the treatment you need if you go to a hospital Accident and Emergency (A+E) department.
All staff working for the NHS must follow strict rules on confidentiality, under which your personal information must be kept private.
If you have infectious TB, you could pass it on to those close to you. The hospital will have to call in your ‘close contacts’ to check whether they also need to be on treatment. This is known as contact tracing.
Your close contacts are likely to be family members or members of your household. Work colleagues may also need testing, but this will be done with strict confidentiality by the relevant department at your work. They cannot name you and must respect your privacy during this process.
Housing rights and benefits
When you are on treatment for TB, extra costs can add up. If you’re on a low income and need help paying your rent, you may be able to get Housing Benefit.
To check your eligibility please visit the Direct Gov website
If you are receiving state benefits you may be able to claim the costs of travelling to your hospital appointments. Ask at the hospital for a form for The Hospital Travel Costs Scheme.
Eviction and homelessness
Secure housing is especially important when you are ill. If you are in temporary or insecure housing you may be worried about eviction, and how this would affect your TB treatment.
All landlords have to follow legal procedures in order to evict tenants. There are laws to protect you.
If you are concerned about eviction, or need housing advice, speak to an advisor at Shelter through their free helpline on 0808 800 4444.
If you are diagnosed with TB when you are homeless and staying in hostels, it is likely that you will be kept in hospital until the doctors know how best to treat you and you are no longer infectious. Afterwards, you should be able to stay in hostel accommodation, where staff will be able to help you take your medication.
Employment rights and sick pay
If you are employed you have certain rights and protection to ensure that you get fair treatment.
If you have been diagnosed with TB you may be worried that you will have to take time off work and that you will lose money, or even your job. TB can be a serious illness, but if you are well enough to work, and are not infectious, then your employer cannot force you to stay at home.
You might be entitled to sick pay, if you are unable to work through illness. There are two types: company sick pay and statutory sick pay (SSP).
Check your employment contract to check whether you will be paid under a company sick pay policy. If not visit the Direct Gov website for more information on SSP.