Recommendation 6

Values in the NHS Constitution handbook

The handbook of the NHS Constitution should be revised to include a much more prominent reference to the NHS values and their significance.

The Department of Health has already taken action to reflect this recommendation in the Handbook to the NHS Constitution.

As noted in the response to Recommendation 4, the NHS Constitution sets out the following values for the NHS:

  • Working together for patients
  • Respect and dignity
  • Commitment to quality of care
  • Compassion
  • Improving lives
  • Everyone counts

The Constitution provides more information about these values, and the Department included an explanation of these values in the handbook when it was updated in March 2013.


Sir Robert Francis QC was clear in his Inquiry report that the principal message of the NHS Constitution should be that patients and their safety come first.  In Hard Truths, the Department of Health committed to strengthening the NHS Constitution to make this clearer for patients, staff and the public. To this end, The Government has launched a consultation into, amongst other things, refreshing the NHS Constitution to reflect the recommendations made by Sir Robert Francis QC. The key elements are:

  • duty of candour;
  • safe care and avoidable harm;
  • staff guidance, and;
  • a patient-centred NHS.