The document, unveiled this afternoon, says that patients cannot be denied this choice ‘on unreasonable grounds'. It also entitles them to ‘express a preference for using a particular doctor'.
However, in practice it is currently unclear exactly how this would work.
The DoH is beginning a 14-week consultation on the document, which lays out the legal rights to drugs, treatment and information that patients already have within the NHS. If it becomes law, the government will be legally obliged to ‘renew' it every 10 years.
The constitution is one of a number of policies unveiled today as part of Lord Ara Darzi's Next Stage Review. Others include:
- Measuring and publishing data on the quality of care offered by all NHS providers.
- Providing ‘personal care plans' for 15 million patients with long-term conditions, and piloting personal budgets for 5,000 of them.
- Giving patients the right to all NICE-approved drugs, speeding up the approval process, and requiring providers to give reasons when non-approved drugs aren't available.
- Placing a greater emphasis on public health, by requiring each PCT to commission ‘well being and prevention services'
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