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Constitution for health service

The UK national health service (NHS) will have a duty to follow a first ever constitution as set out in a Health Bill, the Queen confirmed in her address at the opening of Parliament.

The health service’s first constitution will set out a framework of rights and responsibilities for patients receiving NHS care.

Ministers said the measures included in the Health Bill, to be published by Health Secretary Alan Johnson, show the Government is “committed to ensuring the highest possible standards of care and to giving more power to individuals to shape the care they need”.

It is hoped the constitution will end the “postcode lottery” of patients in certain areas being denied care while others elsewhere in the country are not.

Also included in the Bill is the development of “personalised” health services and ways to protect children and young people from smoking.

Announcing the Bill to MPs and peers in her speech, the Queen said: “Because the health of the nation is vital to its success and well-being, a Bill will be brought forward to strengthen the National Health Service.

“The Bill would create a duty to take account of the new NHS Constitution that will set out the core principles of the service.”

Copyright Press Association 2008

Department of Health