Independent group to look at the impact of the NHS Constitution

Published on Thursday, 08 March 2012 11:34
Posted by Matthew Abbott

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has today announced the formation of a new independent expert panel which will contribute to a Government report on the NHS Constitution.

The NHS Constitution sets out in one place what patients can expect from the NHS, including rights:

  • to be treated with respect and humanity;
  • to have access to NICE-approved drugs;
  • to make choices about their NHS care.

The Government will publish a review in the summer that looks at the impact the Constitution has made for patients and staff, and has asked Professor Steve Field, leader of the NHS Future Forum - a group of the country’s top health experts - to bring together a special working group to provide expert advice.

Andrew Lansley has also asked the new Future Forum group to advise him whether there is any scope for strengthening the NHS Constitution to support high quality services for patients. Together with new duties included in the Health and Social Care Bill, this will strengthen both the contents of the NHS Constitution and the role it plays in the NHS. A public consultation later this year will give patients and staff the opportunity to have their say about what can be done to improve and reinforce the Constitution.

The new expert working group of the NHS Future Forum is made up of medical professionals, patient champions, staff representatives and charities. At its first meeting today it began to consider what effect the NHS Constitution has had since it was launched in 2009.

One example of how the Constitution is being strengthened now is a new commitment to support whistleblowing and tackle poor patient care. The Government has today published additional duties to the Constitution for NHS staff to raise concerns at the earliest opportunity, be supported by managers and have claims fully investigated.

Andrew Lansley said:

“I believe in the NHS Constitution, which enshrines the principles which will always hold true for the NHS. This isn’t about starting from scratch – this is about revitalising these rights and pledges. Patients are at the centre of our reforms, and with the help of the independent panel we will look to strengthen the NHS Constitution to make sure it is working for the benefit of patients and staff.

“Today we have made it easier for staff to raise concerns about poor patient care. Whistleblowing will play an important part in creating a culture of patient safety, and this is why it has been added to the NHS Constitution.”

Steve Field, the independent working group chair, said:

“Throughout the work of the Future Forum, we have consistently said the NHS Constitution should be embedded into how the NHS works, and so I am pleased that we have been asked to contribute to this review. The experience and – crucially – the independence of the group will ensure a thoroughly professional and balanced insight into what effect the NHS Constitution has made and how it can be improved.”

Source: Department of Health


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