An updated NHS Constitution has been published following a consultation that sought views on a number of proposed changes. Important areas improved in the NHS Constitution include:
- patient involvement
- duty of candour
- end of life care
- integrated care
- patient information
- staff rights, responsibilities and commitments
- dignity, respect and compassion
The Department of Health have also made some technical amendments to ensure that the NHS Constitution is up-to-date for the introduction of the new health and care system on 1 April 2013. In addition, as part of the initial response to the report into the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust by Robert Francis QC, they have changed the Constitution to reflect that the NHS’s most important value is for patients to be at the heart of everything the NHS does.
The Francis report 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.
The main commitments in respect of information and support for patients are:
- You have the right to be given information about the test and treatment options available to you, what they involve and their risks and benefits.
- You have the right of access to your own health records and to have any factual inaccuracies corrected.
- The NHS also commits to offer you easily accessible, reliable and relevant information in a form you can understand, and support to use it. This will enable you to participate fully in your own healthcare decisions and to support you in making choices. This will include information on the range and quality of clinical services where there is robust and accurate information available.