NHS Constitution

The NHS Constitution brings together in one place what the NHS does, what it stands for and the commitments it should live up to. It describes and renews our commitment to the values and enduring principles of the NHS.

The Constitution was approved by government in November 2009 and contains six values which underpin how the NHS approaches healthcare.

It is a sort of ‘Bill of Rights’ which sets out the purpose, principles and values of the NHS and explains the rights and responsibilities of staff, patients and the public, and the NHS’s pledges to them.

Who does it apply to?

The NHS Constitution applies to everyone.

All NHS bodies and private and third sector providers supplying NHS services are required by law to take account of the Constitution in their decisions and actions.

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
  • explains where the NHS pledges to improve services and working environments
  • Sets out for the first time new rights for patients, for example the right to make choices about your care or to receive vaccinations that the national body recommends

Why is it necessary?

The NHS Constitution:

  • 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 what their entitlements are
  • 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?

There are a number of rights and pledges, 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 we apply the Constitution?

The Trust is required by law to take account of the Constitution in its decisions and actions. We committed to the rights, responsibilities and pledges set out in the Constitution and we implement these by:

  • Taking the Constitution into account when significant strategic decisions are made by the Trust Board
  • By inviting patients and staff to share their stories and experiences at key committee and Trust Board meetings
  • By revising our values and strategies in the context of the NHS Constitution. The Trust recently revised its mission and value in April 2010, you can read them here
  • Developing close working relationships with our partners and stakeholders to ensure active engagement of all those who provide and use our services
  • By continuing to develop and empower our customer service functions – see PALs
  • Developing an active and engaged membership body in light of our Foundation Trust application

Useful documents