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Government launches NHS Constitution to protect the rights of patients and staff

The government has launched the NHS Constitution which it hopes will give power to patient and the public by for the first time outlining their existing legal rights.

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.’


Readers' comments (3)

  • Here we go again just like the patients charter yet another government inspired "feel good, management spin". Oh well we might as well have a yet another reoganisation. All the health serviced needs is not more money just less pointless admin/management jargon and more Clinicians. Heres a novel idea next time a trust is over spent how about making members of the board redundant then some suits.

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  • Thoroughly agree with anonymous of Southwick, why do you have to be anon? Most people agree there are far too many surplus to requirement, not up to standard 'management' people, wandering around with titles that make little or no sense, contributing little or nothing to what is/are the most important aspect/aspects of our caring... The patient/s!!!

    Bring back the likes of Matron Montague, circa '71 - '74 Salop Royal Infirmary and the 5 B's as the basis of nursing care and things would improve overnight... And if anyone would care to know what the five B's are I'll tell them if they're sufficiently interested to enquire!

    Pat Huxtable

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  • In the last 40 years, politicians of all colours have done their level best to provide the cheapest possible National Health Service that they can.

    Not one government has been prepared to retain and build on the best of the NHS and change only those parts that were causing the problems. Instead they have continually altered and undermined any effective management system that existed. Why did they do it? because an effective management system, created pressure on the politicians to provide adequate funding and managers with ability were able to effectively argue their corner and the politicians and civil servants did not want that.

    This constitution will fall by the wayside like many others ideas before it and in another 40 years, those who are still around will be saying the same things as we are today.

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