The document, drawn up over the last 12 months, brings together in one place the rights and responsibilities of staff and patients.
Among other things, the constitution says patients should have the right to drugs and treatments approved by NICE, the right to make choices about their care and the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
Launching the draft to coincide with the NHS 60th anniversary this week, health secretary Alan Johnson said: ‘The content of the constitution was not dreamt up by me or civil servants in Whitehall. It is something that has risen out of discussions with thousands of NHS staff and patients across the country.’
A two-week period of consultation begins today on the draft, with a final version due to be published by the end of the year. Nurses and other NHS staff are being encouraged to have their say on the draft proposals.