NHS Constitution – know your patient rights

NHS Constitution

NHS ConstitutionThe NHS in south Essex is encouraging people to get to know their patient rights under the NHS Constitution.

All NHS organisations are legally obliged to take account of the rights and pledges set out in the NHS Constitution, which are at the foundation of NHS South Essex’s principles and values. Moreover, the new Clinical Commissioning Groups are committed to upholding the NHS Constitution as they take over the commissioning of healthcare in south Essex.

The Constitution, which was first published in 2009 and became law in 2010, brings together in one place what patients and staff can expect from the NHS – and what the NHS expects in return. It sets out your rights as an NHS patient, from how quickly you should be treated to your right to complain if things go wrong.

Dr Anil Chopra, Chair of the Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group, says:

“The NHS reforms stress the importance of putting patients first when buying and planning healthcare. As a Clinical Commissioning Group, we will be using our first-hand experience of patients’ needs to commission the best healthcare possible, and we are committed to involving and engaging patients to achieve this.

The NHS Constitution is a useful tool, as it sets down clearly what patients should expect from their healthcare – and what we expect in return – so the NHS can work effectively.”

Tony Le Masurier, NHS South Essex’s Constitution Champion, says: “On a day to day basis we ensure that we have due regard and take account of the NHS Constitution – putting patients first is fundamental to what we do.

“We want to remind people in south Essex about the NHS Constitution. It is not just a document but it is part of everything we do and is about what we value most: our health.”

Meanwhile, the NHS Future Forum, which is advising the Government on how the NHS Constitution might be strengthened, has launched a blog. Members are talking about what the NHS Constitution means to them and are asking for your views.

Did you know?

If your GP refers you for treatment, you have the right for any non-urgent treatment to start within 18 weeks. The NHS has to take all reasonable steps to offer you a range of alternatives if this is not possible and you can contact NHS South Essex if you think you will not be treated within 18 weeks.

If you are urgently referred because cancer is suspected, you have the right to be seen by a specialist within a maximum of two weeks from your GP referral.

If your GP refers you to see a consultant you may have a choice of a number of hospitals. You might want to choose a hospital that has better results for your treatment than others, or one near your place of work. Ask your GP for more information about Choose and Book.

You have the right to have any complaint you make about the NHS dealt with efficiently and have it investigated properly. You should contact the NHS organisation you want to complain about first. But if you’re not sure where to start, NHS South Essex’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service can help.

  • For more information about the NHS Constitution, visit www.nhs.uk/constitution
  • To take part in the conversation on the NHS Constitution blog, visit: http://nhsconstitution.dh.gov.uk/
  • Contact NHS South Essex PALS on 0800 587 9159.


As well as setting out your legal rights, the NHS makes pledges to you, committing to provide you with high-quality services.

The NHS is working hard to make sure that you are seen as soon as possible, at a time that is convenient to you. It’s giving you more opportunity to see a GP at a time that suits you.

More than 60% of GP practices in south Essex are already offering extended opening hours. In total, GP practices in this area are open more than 270 hours per week longer than the core hours of 8am to 6.30pm Monday to Friday.

In south Essex, there are also two GP-led health centres offering walk-in and bookable GP or nurse appointments from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, which you can use regardless of which local GP surgery you’re registered with. They are:

Thurrock Health Centre, 55-57 High Street , Grays, Essex, RM17 6NJ, 01375 898700

St Luke’s Health Centre, Pantile Avenue, Southend on Sea, Essex, SS2 4BD, 01702 611505

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