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The NHS Constitution – Its Guiding Principles

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

The NHS constitution contains guiding principles for patients, the public and NHS staff members, to help navigate NHS care.

The constitution lays out the commitments that the NHS makes to all of it’s patients and the responsibilities that everyone who uses the NHS system, owes to each other to ensure that the NHS can operate effectively.

A key component of the constitution is patients’ rights. All patients are entitled to the following legal rights from the healthcare system:-

  • To receive access to NHS services free of charge (subject to some statutory limitations);
  • Access to these services cannot be denied on unreasonable grounds;
  • To receive appropriate treatment that reflects your needs and preferences, including the right to refuse treatment, as long as you have mental capacity;
  • To be treated with dignity and respect and not to be discriminated against;
  • To have access to your medical records and the right to privacy and confidentiality;
  • To have any complaint acknowledged within three days and investigated properly; and
  • To have the risks and benefits appropriately explained for any treatment and all options made known to you.

Knowing your rights is a huge part of patient empowerment and can assist you throughout your journey of care with the NHS, whether this be with one-off appointments or ongoing treatment. Understanding and being aware of your rights can help you ensure you are getting the treatment and care that is right for you or your loved ones.

Part of a patient’s rights is to receive a good quality of care. This includes being treated with a professional standard of care by appropriately qualified and experienced staff in a registered organisation. In all aspects of your care and treatment with the NHS, you should always feel appropriately managed to and as though your concerns are being listened to and effectively considered.

If you feel as though your rights haven’t been acknowledged or your standard of care was below a reasonable standard, get in touch with our clinical negligence team who will be happy to discuss this with you.

Louise Tyler


Louise Tyler


Louise is the Head of the Medical Negligence Team working in this area of law for 25 years. She is a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel, the AvMA (Action for Victims of Medical Accidents) Panel and been appointed to the Executive Committee…