Department of Health and Social Care

Values and standards

We need a common patient centred culture which produces, at the very least, the fundamental standards of care to which we are all entitled, at the same time as celebrating and supporting the provision of excellence in healthcare.

Robert Francis, 2013.

For the first time, the values of the NHS are available for everyone to see in one place as part of the NHS Constitution.

The Constitution states everything that staff, patients and the public can expect from the NHS.

These values have patients at their heart. They make it clear that patients must be involved in decisions, and that the needs of patient needs should be put before those of the organisation.

Common values shared throughout the system will help the health and care system provide consistently good care to everyone from the beginning to the end of life.

Health and care staff must seek to achieve the highest standards for patients – improving lives by insisting on quality in safety, clinical effectiveness and patient experience. These standards must be determined by what patients want and need.

It is important that patients are aware of these standards and know what to expect so it is clear when the health and care system is meeting standards and when it is falling short.

Where standards are not met, the health and care system must be quick to detect problems, take robust action and hold those who are responsible, to account.

Important actions in this area include:

  • transparent, monthly reporting of ward-by-ward staffing levels and other safety measures
  • a statutory duty of candour on providers, and professional duty of candour on individuals, through changes to professional codes
  • a government intention to legislate at the earliest available opportunity on wilful neglect of patients, so that those responsible for the worst failures in care are held accountable
  •  the Care Quality Commission and NHS England will develop a dedicated hospital safety website for the public which will draw together up to date information on all the factors, for which robust data is available, that impact of the safety of care
  • trusts will be liable if they have not been open with the patient – the NHS Litigation Authority will continue to make full payments on successful claims, but will have the discretion to make the trust partly liable
  • a new care certificate to ensure that healthcare assistants and social care support workers have the right fundamental training and skills in order to give personal care to patients and service users
  • The Care Quality Commission has appointed 3 chief inspectors for hospitals, adult social care and primary care, and has consulted on a new system of ratings and of fundamental standards, with paitent care and safety at their heart
  • legislation to introduce a response and effective failure regime which looks at quality, as well as finance, is progressing through Parliament
  • NHS England has published guidance to commissioners, Transforming Participation in Health and Care on involving patients and the public in decisions about their care and their services
  • a new fast-track leadership programme has been launched to recruit clinicians and external talent to the top jobs in the NHS in England, including time spent at a world-leading business school


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