Extracts from the NHS Constitution

The principles that guide the NHS

Principle 4 (p3)

The NHS aspires to put patients at the heart of everything it does.

“…………... NHS services must reflect, and should be coordinated around and tailored to, the needs and preferences of patients, their families and their carers. Patients, with their families and carers, where appropriate, will be involved in and consulted on all decisions about their care and treatment……..”


Principle 5 (p4)

The NHS works across organisational boundaries and in partnership with other organisations in the interest of patients, local communities and the wider population.


Principle 7 (p4)

The NHS is accountable to the public, communities and patients that it serves

“The NHS is a national service funded through national taxation…….. most decisions in the NHS, especially those about the treatment of individuals and the detailed organisation of services, are rightly taken by the local NHS and by patients with their clinicians.”


NHS values

Value 1 (p5) - Working Together for Patients.

“Patients come first in everything we do. We fully involve patients, staff, families, carers, communities, and professionals inside and outside the NHS. We put the needs of patients and communities before organisational boundaries.


Value 2 (p5) - Respect and Dignity

“We value every person – whether patient, their families or carers, or staff – as an individual, respect their aspirations and commitments in life, and seek to understand their priorities, needs, abilities and limits. We take what others have to say seriously. We are honest and open about our point of view and what we can and cannot do.”


Value 3 (p5) - Commitment to Quality of Care.

“…..we encourage and welcome feedback from patients, families, carers, staff and the public. We use this to improve the care we provide and build on our successes.”


Value 5 (p5) - Improving Lives

“…..we recognise that all have a part to play in making ourselves, patients and our communities healthier……”


Value 6 (p5) - Everyone Counts.

We maximise our resources for the benefit of the whole community, and make sure nobody is excluded, discriminated against or left behind. We accept that some people need more help, that difficult decisions have to be taken – and that when we waste resources we waste opportunities for others.”


Patients and the public – your rights and NHS pledges to you


No.3 (p6)

“You have the right to expect your NHS to assess the health requirements of your community and to commission and put in place the services to meet those needs as considered necessary”

No. 5 (p6)

“You have the right not to be unlawfully discriminated against in the provision of NHS services including on grounds of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion, belief, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity or marital or civil partnership status.”


Respect, Consent and Confidentiality

No. 1 (p8)

“You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, in accordance with your human rights.”

Informed Choice

No.3 (p9)

You have the right to make choices about the services commissioned by NHS bodies and to information to support these choices. The options available to you will develop over time and depend on your individual needs”


Involvement in Your Healthcare and in the NHS

No. 2 (p9)

“You have the right to be involved, directly or through representatives, in the planning of healthcare services commissioned by NHS bodies, the development and consideration of proposals for changes in the way those services are provided, and in decisions to be made affecting the operation of those services.”


Staff – your rights and NHS pledges to you

“Staff have extensive legal rights, embodied in general employment and discrimination law. [Examples given in the Constitution include the following]

  • have a good working environment with flexible working opportunities, consistent with the needs of patients and with the way people live their lives;
  • are treated fairly, equaliy and free from discrimination;

In addition to these legal rights, there are a number of pledges, which the NHS is committed to achieve. Pledges go above and beyond your legal rights. This means that they are not legally binding but represent a commitment by the NHS to provide high-quality working environments for staff. [Examples given in the Constitution include]

  • ".....to engage staff in decisions that affect them and the services they provide, individually, through representative organisations and through local partnership working arrangements.  All staff will be empowered to put forward ways to deliver better and safer services for patients and their families."

The full text of the NHS Constitution is available via the NHS Choices website.

Back to NHS Constitution and EDI.