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Revised NHS Constitution

Volume 560: debated on Tuesday 26 March 2013

The NHS constitution sets out the principles, values, rights and responsibilities that underpin the NHS. It sets out the enduring character of the NHS as a comprehensive and equitable health service. It is intended to empower the public, patients and staff to know and exercise their rights to help drive improvements throughout the NHS. The constitution sets out rights to which patients, public and staff are entitled, and pledges which the NHS is committed to achieve, together with responsibilities which we all owe to one another to ensure that the NHS operates fairly and effectively.

Between November 2012 and January 2013, the Department ran a full public consultation on a package of amendments to strengthen the NHS constitution. This consultation followed advice from a NHS Future Forum working group, which advised on options for strengthening the NHS constitution to support the fair and effective operation of the NHS.

Today we are publishing a revised NHS constitution, which strengthens a number of areas, including:

patient involvement;


duty of candour;

end of life care;

integrated care;


patient information;

staff rights, responsibilities and commitments; and

dignity, respect and compassion.

In addition, the public inquiry report into the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, chaired by Robert Francis QC and published in February 2013, emphasises the role of the NHS constitution in helping to create a positive and caring culture within the NHS. Of the 290 recommendations made in the report, nine of them relate specifically to the NHS constitution. We are carefully considering these recommendations and have already acted on two them. So, as part of our initial response to the public inquiry report into the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, we have made changes in the revised NHS constitution to reflect that the most important value of the NHS is for everyone to work together for the benefit of patients, while also giving the values more prominence in the constitution and accompanying documents.

Alongside the NHS constitution, we are publishing the following documents today:

a Government response to the consultation, which sets out detail about the changes being made to the constitution and follows an earlier report on what we heard from the consultation that was published on 15 February 2013; and

an updated handbook to the NHS constitution.

Copies of “The NHS Constitution”, and “Consultation on strengthening the NHS Constitution: Government response”, have been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.

“The Handbook to the NHS Constitution” has also been placed in the Library.