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Patient Rights and Responsibilities

Volume 652: debated on Monday 14 January 2019

I have today laid before Parliament a report on the effect of the NHS Constitution. The report has also been published on, alongside an updated version of the handbook to the NHS Constitution.

The NHS Constitution, like the NHS, belongs to us all. It sets out the principles and values that underpin the NHS in England, and the rights to which patients, the public and staff are entitled, and pledges that the NHS has additionally made towards them. It also makes clear the responsibilities which we all have for supporting the NHS to operate fairly and effectively, and explanation of these has been strengthened in the handbook. We must all play our part in helping to make the NHS as good as it can be for ourselves, for our children, and for our grandchildren.

The report is based on an independent survey of staff, patients and the public. It describes how they view the impact of the Constitution, and its value in promoting and raising standards of care.

Many of us are increasingly turning to authoritative sources, such as the NHS website, for information on what they can expect from the NHS, how we can use it well, and how we can look after our own health.

In strengthening the patient and public responsibilities section in the Constitution handbook, which reflects our response to recommendations made in the House of Lords report on the long-term sustainability of the NHS and Adult Social Care, we have made clearer that patients and the public have a vital role to play in ensuring that the NHS remains sustainable, with its resources focused on those who need them most.

We have a dedicated NHS workforce, who work incredibly hard to deliver high quality care to all those who need it, when they need it. Despite the pressures they are under, they remain proud to be a part of the NHS, and firmly support the need for a Constitution. Awareness of the Constitution among staff is high, and among those who feel informed about the Constitution, more than ever said that it positively influences their day to day work. This highlights the Constitution’s ability to empower and enthuse staff to do their best for patients. As we work with the NHS to take forward its new long-term plan, published on 7 January 2019 and underpinned by a funding settlement that will see the NHS budget grow by £20.5billion in real terms by 2023-24, the Constitution continues to represent everything that the NHS stands for.