NHS Constitution will protect against postcode lotteries

The NHS Constitution will prevent the Health Bill creating a postcode lottery in the NHS, the DH-appointed GP heading its effectiveness review has said.

Professor Field defended NICE from GP criticisms that the treatments it recommended were not appropriate for primary care.
Professor Field defended NICE from GP criticisms that the treatments it recommended were not appropriate for primary care.

NHS Future Forum chairman and GP Professor Steve Field has formed a panel of experts to contribute to a DH report on the success of the NHS Constitution.

The NHS Constitution provides a code of conduct for NHS staff and outlines what patients are legally entitled to under NHS care.

One right entitles patients to drugs and treatments that have been recommended by NICE for use in the NHS.

Professor Field said that this right would ensure that the NHS did not become a ‘postcode lottery’ under the Health Bill.

‘If this had become more well-known a lot of what we’re hearing about at the moment would have been allayed,’ Professor Field said.

Professor Field went on to defend NICE from GP criticisms that the treatments it recommended were not appropriate for primary care.

‘I believe that NICE is the unsung hero of the NHS,’ Professor Field said.

As well as assessing what impact the Constitution has had on the NHS so far, the NHS Future Forum panel will also make suggestions on how the NHS Constitution can be strengthened.

Professor Field said that recommendations were likely to include the strengthening of ‘pledges’ into the legal right.

‘I don’t think the fundamentals of the Constitution will change’ he said.

The DH recently issued a new version of the NHS Constitution, with an additional section giving protection to whistleblowers in the NHS.

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