If you are searching for information regarding your 'rights' as a patient of the NHS, you have found the right website. It is important for you to understand what your rights are, but also what the NHS expect of you as a patient. Being a patient of the NHS is a two way partnership and you should play your part. In this section of our website we will inform you of;

  • Your rights as a patient of the NHS
  • Who is qualified to treat you
  • The length of time that you should expect to wait to receive your treatment
  • What to do if you don’t receive your treatment within the published timescales

Key facts

  • The National Health Service came into being on 5th July 1948 to provide high-quality healthcare that is free and for everyone.
  • In June 2008, Lord Darzi stated that patients should be treated within 18 Weeks from the date of their referral from a General Practitioner.
  • In January 2009 the NHS Constitution was published which officially gives patients their legal right to be treated within 18 Weeks.
  • The Constitution brought together the principles, values, rights and responsibilities that underpin the NHS.
  • No Government can change the Constitution without full involvement of staff, patients and the public.
  • The Constitution will be reviewed every ten years.
  • The Handbook to the Constitution will be reviewed at least every three years.
  • The Constitution is a promise that the NHS will always be there.

Access to health services

The NHS Constitution states; You have the right to access services within maximum waiting times, or for the NHS to take all reasonable steps to offer you a range of suitable alternatives. Maximum waiting time has been defined as 18 Weeks from Referral to Treatment (RTT).

Principles that guide the NHS – One

There are seven key principles that guide the NHS. These are underpinned by core NHS values that have been brought together from extensive discussions with staff, patients and the public.

1) The NHS provides a comprehensive service, available to all

The NHS is available to all irrespective of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion, belief, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity or marital or civil partnership status. The service is designed to improve, prevent, diagnose and treat both physical and mental health problems with equal regard. It has a duty to each and every individual that it serves and must respect their human rights. At the same time, it has a wider social duty to promote equality through the services it provides and to pay particular attention to groups or sections of society where improvements in health and life expectancy are not keeping pace with the rest of the population.

Principles that guide the NHS – Two

2) Access to NHS services is based on clinical need, not an individual’s ability to pay

NHS services are free of charge, except in limited circumstances sanctioned by Parliament, e.g. paying for prescriptions and dental charges.