Leading GP heads up panel to assess NHS Constitution

GP and chairman of the NHS Future Forum Professor Steve Field will head up a new panel examining the effectiveness of the NHS Constitution.

Professor Steve Field: heading up a new panel examining the effectiveness of the NHS Constitution
Professor Steve Field: heading up a new panel examining the effectiveness of the NHS Constitution

Professor Field will lead the panel, appointed to contribute to a DH report on the impact the NHS Constitution has had on patients and staff.

Under the Health Act 2009, the health secretary is required to publish a report on how effective the NHS Constitution is every three years. The current report must be published by 5 July.

The panel, which is part of the Future Forum, will comprise patient champions, staff representatives and clinicians including BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has also asked the group to advise him whether there is any scope for strengthening the NHS Constitution, following the new duties awarded to it if the Health Bill is passed.

Mr Lansley said: ‘Patients are at the centre of our reforms, and with the help of the independent panel we will look to strengthen the NHS Constitution to make sure it is working for the benefit of patients and staff.’

Professor Field said: ‘Throughout the work of the Future Forum, we have consistently said the NHS Constitution should be embedded into how the NHS works, and so I am pleased that we have been asked to contribute to this review.

The experience and – crucially – the independence of the group will ensure a thoroughly professional and balanced insight into what effect the NHS Constitution has made and how it can be improved.’

A public consultation will be held later this year to allow patients and staff to give their views on the Constitution.

Responding to the announcement chief executive of the GMC Niall Dickson said: ‘We welcome the focus in the new NHS Constitution on the professional responsibility to raise concerns as the key to ensuring the highest standards of patient care.

‘We have recently sent guidance to all doctors on the medical register which makes clear that they have a duty to act if they believe patients are at risk, or when patients’ care or dignity is being compromised.'

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