The NHS Constitution was first published in 2009 and is reviewed and renewed at least once every 10 years.
The document and its explanatory handbook spell out:
- The underlying principles and values of the NHS in England
- Legal rights for patients, the public and staff
- Pledges that the NHS is committed to achieving – including maximum waiting times for starting treatment
- Responsibilities of the public, patients and staff to help make sure the NHS runs fairly and effectively.
As a user of the NHS, your responsibilities include:
- helping to looking after your own health
- treating staff and other patients with respect
- keeping appointments
- providing accurate information
Under the NHS Constitution, patients have a right to start treatment within maximum waiting times.
As long as you choose it and it is appropriate for you, you have the right to start non-emergency treatment within a maximum of 18 weeks from when you are referred by your GP.
Making a complaint
The Constitution guides patients on how to get redress or make a complaint and get it properly investigated.
This includes the right to:
- Have any complaint you make about NHS services acknowledged within three working days and to have it properly investigated.
- Be kept informed of progress and to know the outcome of any investigation into your complaint
- Take higher action to an Ombudsman if you are not happy with the NHS response.