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NHS Constitution

Volume 507: debated on Monday 8 March 2010

The Department has today published a revised NHS constitution alongside the Government response to the consultation on new patient rights.

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 the values and enduring principles of the NHS. To guarantee that the NHS constitution remains relevant, it has to keep up to date with public priorities and developments in medical technology, and evidence.

A three-month consultation launched on 10 November 2009, “The NHS constitution: a consultation on new patient rights”, set out proposals for new rights to be included in the constitution. The proposals included a right to start consultant-led treatment within 18 weeks of GP referral, or to be seen by a cancer specialist within two weeks of GP referral, or, where this is not possible, for steps to be taken to offer a range of alternative providers.

The consultation also sought views on a right to an NHS health check, which assesses an individual’s risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease, for all people aged 40 to 74.

Over 8,000 people responded to the consultation. Following careful consideration of the responses, the Department has today published a revised NHS constitution, including a new right on waiting times. This new right will commence on 1 April 2010 and will be established in law through directions to primary care trusts and strategic health authorities. We also intend to introduce a right to an NHS health check in 2012, and will continue to explore the introduction of further entitlements as NHS services continue to develop.

The revised NHS constitution and the Government response to the consultation have been placed in the Library and copies are available for hon. Members from the Vote Office.