Consultation on the NHS Constitution launched today

The Department of Health (DH) has set out proposals to strengthen the NHS Constitution for public consultation today, with the NHS, patients and public all being asked to take part.

The main changes proposed cover:

  • a new responsibility for staff to treat patients not only with the highest standards of care, but also with compassion, dignity and respect;
  • a new pledge making it explicit that patients can expect to sleep in single-sex wards; and
  • a new pledge to patients that NHS staff must be open and honest with them if things go wrong or mistakes happen – this ‘duty of candour’ will become a condition in the NHS Standard Contract from April 2013.

The changes also make it clearer that:

  • patients, their families and carers should be fully involved in all discussions and decisions about their care and treatment, including their end of life care;
  • patients who are abusive or violent to NHS staff could be refused treatment; and
  • the NHS is equally concerned about physical and mental health.

Sir David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the NHS Commissioning Board said:

“The NHS Commissioning Board exists to improve outcomes for patients in England and a major part of this is to uphold and promote the NHS Constitution; its values and principles underpin everything we do. We wholeheartedly welcome the Department of Health’s consultation on proposals to further strengthen it for the benefit of patients, public and staff across the NHS. It is a major opportunity to further promote the values and purpose of the NHS and I would encourage as many people as possible to take part in the consultation.”

The consultation follows work carried out by the NHS Future Forum on how the Constitution could be strengthened. The Government has accepted the Forum’s recommendations in full and the new proposals reflect this.

You can find more information on the consultation on the Department of Health website.

The closing date for comments is 28 January 2013.

Responses to the consultation will feed into a revised version of the NHS Constitution, which will be published by April 2013.