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NHS constitution

What is it?

It is a sort of ‘Bill of Rights' which sets out the principles and values that guide how the NHS should act and make decisions. It also explains the rights and responsibilities of staff, patients and the public, and the NHS' pledges to them. The NHS Constitution can be found by clicking here.

Who does it apply to?

It applies to all of us. In terms of services it applies to all NHS organisations and other bodies supplying NHS services.

What does it do?

The NHS Constitution:

  • Brings together in one place what staff, patients and taxpayers can expect from the NHS

  • Forms the basis of a new relationship between staff and patients - based on partnership

  • Describes everyone's responsibilities and makes it clear how we can make best use of NHS resources

  • Confirms that the NHS belongs to all of us

  • Details all existing rights for staff, patients and the public and explains what to do if you feel your rights have not been upheld. It also explains where the NHS pledges to improve services and working environments

  • Sets out for the first time new rights for patients, for example:
    • right to make choices about your care

    • right to receive vaccinations that the national body recommends

    • Sets out principles and values to guide how all parts of the NHS should act and make decisions

Why is it necessary?


  • Secures the future of the NHS for generations to come. The government must renew the constitution every 10 years after comprehensive consultation

  • Aims to ensure high-quality, free NHS services - value for money for tax payers

  • Tells staff and patients to what they are entitled

  • Recognises that it is staff that really make the difference when providing high-quality care

  • Helps staff, patients and the public play their part in the NHS

  • Sets out a vision in which all staff should be trusted and actively listened to and have the confidence and tools to act in patients' interests


What are the rights and NHS pledges to patients?

The rights and pledges are detailed under the following headings:

  •  Access to health services

  •  Quality of care and the environment

  •  Nationally approved treatments and programmes

  •  Respect, consent and confidentiality

  •  Informed choice

  •  Involvement in healthcare and the NHS

  •  Complaint and redress

How can I learn more about the constitution?

You can read a number of documents including:

  • The NHS Constitution

  • The Handbook to the NHS Constitution

  • The Statement of NHS Accountability

  • The National Health Service Constitution - report of the Constitutional Advisory Forum to the Secretary of State for Health

All these publications can be found on the Department of Health website.

Order online: www.orderline.dh.gov.uk

Email: dh@prolog.uk.com. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Telephone: 0300 123 1002

PO Box 7