The NHS is there for us from the moment we are born. It takes care of us and our family members when we need it most. The NHS was founded on a common set of principles and values, and the NHS Constitution establishes the principles and values of the NHS in England. It sets out rights to which patients, public and staff are entitled, and pledges that the NHS is committed to achieving. It also sets out responsibilities, which the public, patients and staff owe to one another to ensure that the NHS operates fairly and effectively.
These rights cover how patients access health services, the quality of care you’ll receive, the treatments and programmes available to you, confidentiality, information and your right to complain if things go wrong. In return, the NHS expects you to take responsibility of your own health and use the NHS with respect. This includes:
- Registering with a GP practice
- Following courses of treatment you’ve agreed to
- Always treating NHS staff and other patients with respect
- Keeping GP and hospital appointments – or if you have to cancel, doing so in good time
- Giving feedback – both positive and negative – about treatment you’ve received
No government can change the Constitution without the full involvement of staff, patients and the public. The Constitution is a promise that the NHS will always be there for you.
You can download the full NHS Constitution, as well as the Handbook to the Constitution and any Easy Read formats, from the GOV.UK website.
The NHS in England underwent a major reorganisation in 2013. To find out how the NHS Constitution reflects these changes read the guidance The NHS Constitution: what does it mean for the public health system? (PDF, 89,87kb)
Read more about the NHS in England and its new structure.