NHS constitution unveiled21st January 2009
An NHS constitution setting out patients’ rights to care and their responsibilities has been launched in England.
Ministers see the move as a "bill of rights" for the health service setting out what patients and staff should expect within the NHS.
That means patients also playing their part in a new health service.
The final version will be unveiled in parliament and will focus on patients having the right to access services predominantly free of charge, free of discrimination and delivered in a professional manner.
But in turn, they are expected to keep appointments, treat staff with respect, take part in vaccination programmes and contribute to their own good health and that of their family.
Health Secretary Alan Johnson highlighted the section on personal responsibilities but stressed the constitution would not be used to bully patients who failed to comply with its terms.
He said: "It is a really good thing to bring all this together in an accessible document and I think it will be interwoven into the life of the NHS in the future."
While agreeing with the principle of an NHS constitution, the Liberal Democrats said it was too early to predict whether it would make a difference.
Patients Association director Katherine Murphy said her organisation did not expect the document to make any difference to the care patients received while the British Medical Association said more than a "feelgood" document was needed.
The NHS Alliance, which represents primary care trusts, welcomed the constitution as having "real potential to enhance patient care."
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Title: NHS constitution unveiled
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 9889
Date Added: 21st Jan 2009