The NHS belongs to the people. The NHS is there for us from the moment we are born. It takes care of us and our family members when we need it most.
It is there to improve our health and wellbeing, supporting us to keep mentally and physically well, to get better when ill and, when we cannot fully recover, to stay as well as we can to the end of our lives.
The NHS is founded on a common set of principles and values that bind together the communities and people it serves – patients and public – and the staff who work for it.
The Secretary of State for Health, all NHS bodies, private and voluntary sector providers supplying NHS services, and local authorities in the exercise of their public health functions are required by law to take account of this Constitution in their decisions and actions
What is the NHS Constitution?
The NHS Constitution has been created to protect the NHS and make sure it will always do the things it was set up to do in 1948 – to provide high-quality healthcare that’s free and for everyone.
For the first time in the history of the NHS, the constitution brings together in one place details of what staff, patients and the public can expect from the National Health Service. It also explains what people can do to help support the NHS, help it work effectively, and help ensure that its resources are used responsibly.
The NHS Constitution establishes the principles and values of the NHS in England. It sets out rights to which patients, public and staff are entitled, and pledges which the NHS is committed to achieve, together with responsibilities, which the public, patients and staff owe to one another to ensure that the NHS operates fairly and effectively
These rights cover how patients access health services, the quality of care they’ll receive, the treatments and programmes available, confidentiality, information and the right to complain if things go wrong.
The promises the NHS makes to you
The NHS also makes certain pledges to you, which it is committed to achieving. These go above and beyond your legal rights and are a commitment to provide high-quality services.
For example :
The NHS commits to inform you about the healthcare services available to you, locally and nationally. NHS Choices, for example, is a service intended to help you make choices about your health, from lifestyle decisions about things like smoking, drinking and exercise, through to the practical aspects of finding and using NHS services in England.
The NHS commits to ensure that services are provided in a clean and safe environment that is fit for purpose, based on national best practice.
The NHS commits that if you are admitted to hospital, you will not have to share sleeping accommodation with patients of the opposite sex, except where appropriate.
What the NHS needs from you in return
The NHS is a vital resource and we can all help it work effectively, and ensure resources are used responsibly. The NHS Constitution explains the ways in which you can do this, including:
- recognising that you can make a significant contribution to your own, and your family’s good health and wellbeing, and taking some personal responsibility for it
- registering with a GP practice
- following courses of treatment you’ve agreed to
- always treating NHS staff and other patients with respect
- keeping GP and hospital appointments – or if you have to cancel, doing so
in good time
- giving feedback – both positive and negative – about treatment you’ve received