The government agrees the NHS Constitution should be the central reference point for all NHS patients and staff.
The Constitution sets out principles and values to guide the NHS, as well as rights, pledges and responsibilities for patients and staff, and it has a powerful role to play in shaping the culture of the NHS.
The Secretary of State for Health, all NHS bodies, private and voluntary sector providers supplying NHS services, and local authorities, in the exercise of their public health functions, are required by law to take account of the NHS Constitution in their decisions and actions. NHS England and clinical commissioning groups and Health Education England also have a legal duty to promote the constitution.
The government recognises that levels of awareness of the Constitution are low among patients, the public and staff, and that te profile of the Constitution must be raised if it is to genuinely become the first reference point for patients and staff. To achieve this, the Department of Health, NHS England, Health Education England and clinical commissioning groups are working with relevant partners to embed and promote the constitution across the system.
The Department of Health is also developing options to increase the impact of the constitution so that patients and the public understand their rights and responsibilities and are clear about what to do when their expectations are not met.
The Department of Health sought advice from an independent Expert Advisory Group about how to increase impact and raise awareness of the NHS Constitution amongst the public and patients. On 13 March 2014 the Expert Advisory Group published its advice in a report to the Secretary of State for Health and relevant system bodies, outlining how to embed and strengthen the impact of the NHS Constitution within the system. For example, the Department of Health has published a new guide which helps patients and the public understand how to give feedback and make complaints if the standards described in the NHS Constitution are not met.
The Department will continue working with key partners to consider ways to increase the impact of the NHS Constitution.