It contains a number of pledges to patients, public and staff. For NHS staff the Department of Health says that it will mean an 'NHS-wide commitment' to equipping them with the tools, training and support they need to deliver high quality care for patients.
The government also hopes that the Constitution will serve to ‘safeguard the future of the NHS and renew its core values’.
Health secretary, Alan Johnson said: ‘This is a momentous point in the history of the NHS. Following on from Lord Darzi's Next Stage Review, the launch of the NHS Constitution shows how its founding principles still endure today and have resonance for staff, patients and public alike. It will ensure that we protect the NHS for generations to come.
‘[The Constitution] will form the basis of a new relationship between staff and patients - a relationship based on partnership, respect and shared commitment where everyone knows what they can expect from the NHS and what is expected from them.’
NHS chief executive David Nicholson said: ‘It pulls together in one place what the patients who use the NHS, the public who fund it and the staff who provide it, can expect to receive from the NHS, and the contribution they can make themselves.’
Unison head of health Karen Jennings said: ‘The Constitution enshrines the guiding principles of the NHS providing a guiding beacon for healthcare for generations to come. It is a vision of which Nye Bevan could be proud.
‘Crucially, the Constitution applies to any private health provider working in the NHS, bringing public sector values and the public sector ethos into the private sector. Those who do not support the Constitution need not apply.’
However, Unite national officer for health David Fleming, said: ‘Unite remains wary about the government’s continued obsession with privatisation of the NHS and we would not like the fine words and elegant phrases embedded in the constitution to be used as a smokescreen for private companies to take a larger slice of NHS services.’