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NHS: Patients' Rights

Volume 714: debated on Tuesday 10 November 2009


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health (Andy Burnham) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Department of Health has today published the consultation document The NHS Constitution: a 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 is relevant and up to date it will need to change over time to reflect public priorities and developments in medical technology and evidence.

Today’s consultation sets out and seeks views on proposals for new rights to be included in the constitution, including a right to start consultant-led treatment within 18 weeks of referral by a general practitioner, or to be seen by a cancer specialist within two weeks of GP referral. Where this is not possible the NHS will have to take all reasonable steps to offer the patient a range of alternative providers where they could begin treatment or be seen sooner.

This consultation also proposes that our commitment to the NHS health check programme, which assesses an individual’s risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease becomes a right for all people aged 40 to 74.

The consultation also welcomes views on areas where we believe we will soon be able to offer rights, such as dentistry, evening and weekend access to GPs, personal health budgets, the ability to choose to die at home and rapid access to diagnostic tests.

The consultation document has been placed in the Library and copies are available for honourable Members from the Vote Office.