The NHS Constitution
The NHS belongs to the people.
It is there to improve our health and well-being, supporting us to keep mentally and physically well, to get better when we are ill and when we cannot fully recover, to stay as well as we can to the end of our lives. It works at the limits of science – bringing the highest levels of human knowledge and skill to save lives and improve health. It touches our lives at times of basic human need, when care and compassion are what matter most.
The NHS is founded on a common set of principles and values that bind together the communities and people it serves – patients and public – and the staff who work for it.
This 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 which the NHS is committed to achieve, together with responsibilities, which the public, patients and staff owe to one another to ensure that the NHS operates fairly and effectively. 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 this Constitution in their decisions and actions.
See the NHS Constitution here.
The NHS Constitution gives people living in England the right to choose where to receive treatment.
You have the right to:
- choose your GP surgery, unless there are reasonable grounds to refuse (for example, you live outside the area that the surgery covers)
- make choices about your NHS care, and to receive information to support these choices
This also means you can choose the organisation that provides your NHS care when you’re referred for your first appointment with a consultant.
So if your GP recommends that you see a specialist, you can choose where and when to see them.
You can read more about Patient Choice here and view our Patient Choice Policy Statement here.