Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Secure Service; in Association with the NHS Health Reporter HELEN RAE Takes a Look at a New Document Introduced to Ensure the Future of the National Health Service

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Secure Service; in Association with the NHS Health Reporter HELEN RAE Takes a Look at a New Document Introduced to Ensure the Future of the National Health Service

Article excerpt

Byline: HELEN RAE

SIXTY-ONE years after the NHS was formed, a new constitution has been introduced to safeguard its future.

The NHS Constitution - developed after consultation and research into what matters to staff, patients and the public - sets out the quality of care that patients can expect to receive from a world-class health service in the 21st century.

It sets out commitments to patients, public and staff in the form of rights to which they are entitled, and pledges that the NHS will strive to deliver. It also sets out the responsibilities of the public, patients and staff to ensure the NHS operates fairly and effectively.

Patients already have considerable legal rights in relation to the NHS, but these are scattered between different policies. This is the first time that there is a summary in one place.

It is hoped the constitution will form the basis of a new relationship between staff and patients - a relationship based on partnership, respect and shared commitment - where everyone knows what they can expect from the NHS and what is expected from them.

Lord Darzi's report 'High Quality Care for All' identified the need for a constitution to reaffirm the principles of the NHS - cementing the idea that the NHS belongs to everyone - while creating a set of values to inspire people to use the NHS responsibly.

Following extensive consultation with staff, patients and the public the new constitution was launched this year at a historic signing ceremony attended by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, health secretary Alan Johnson and NHS chief executive David Nicolson.

The Government will have a legal duty to renew the constitution every 10 years and no Government will be able to change it without the full involvement of staff, patients and the public.

Dr Mike Guy, medical director of NHS North of Tyne, said: "The NHS is an amazing achievement and asset - we must use it well and use its resources responsibly. This constitution will help ensure that we are all empowered to take control and make choices over our care - with all of us making the very best use of the NHS. …

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