Proposals to strengthen the NHS Constitution are set out for public consultation today, with the NHS, patients and public are all being asked to respond.
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
- 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
- the NHS is equally concerned about physical and mental health.
Health Minister Norman Lamb said:
“With this Government, the founding principles of the NHS – free at the point of delivery to all, regardless of their ability to pay – will not only be supported, but reinforced.
“The NHS is one of this country’s greatest achievements. This government will always make sure it is free to all, no matter your age or the size of your bank balance. That’s why at the same time as we are protecting its budget, we are strengthening this Constitution, which enshrines the right of everyone to have first class care, now and in the future.”
The consultation follows work carried out by the NHS Future Forum on how the Constitution could be strengthened. The Government accepts the Forum’s recommendations in full and the new proposals reflect this.
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.