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Expert group tasked to review NHS Constitution

8 March 2012

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The NHS Consitution is set to be “revitalised” under new plans announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. 

Prof Steve Field, leader of the NHS Future Forum, has been charged with the responsibility of electing a number of experts to join an independent “special working group” to review the constitution’s impact on patients and staff. 

It is expected that this independent expert panel will contribute to a government report on the NHS Constitution, due to the released in summer 2012. 

Lansley plans to strengthen the constitution to support “high quality services for patients”. 

The review, together with the new duties included in the proposed Health Bill, will enhance both the contents of the constitution and its role in the NHS, it is claimed.

I believe in the NHS Constitution, which enshrines the principles which will always hold true for the NHS,” said Lansley. 

“This isnt 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.” 

Changes to the NHS constitution are already underway. 

The government has today (8 March) 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. 

The experience and  crucially  the independence of the [expert] group will ensure a thoroughly professional and balanced insight into what effect the NHS Constitution has made and how it can be improved,” said Prof Field. 

The NHS Constitution aims to set out what patients can expect from the NHS, including the right to be treated with respect and humanity; to have access to NICE-approved drugs; and to make choices about their NHS care.

Do you think the NHS Constitution needs to be updated? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“Yes with a list of responsibilities for patients. This morning we had an appointment used by a parent whose child did not eat school dinner yesterday but ate breakfast this morning and wanted to go to school. Parent would not be put off had to see a Dr today – ridiculous. Sanctions on patients for DNA appts other than throwing off the list which only in effect moves the problem round” – Name and address withheld

“Mr Lansley would be well advised to concentrate on one change at a time particularly since the Health Bill has had such a stormy ride so far. Let the Bill bed down – observe and monitor its effects then apply some of the observations and results in the NHS amended Constitution” – V Henry, London