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Your rights and responsibilities as a patient

What is the NHS Constitution?

For the first time in the history of the NHS, the constitution brings together in one place details of what staff, patients and the public can expect from the National Health Service. It also explains what you can do to help support the NHS, help it work effectively, and help ensure that its resources are used responsibly.

The Constitution sets out your rights as an NHS patient. These rights cover how patients access health services, the quality of care you'll receive, the treatments and programmes available to you, confidentiality, information and your right to complain if things go wrong.

As a patient you have the right:      


  • To be treated with respect and courtesy, preserving your privacy, confidentiality and dignity.
  • To receive clear understandable information about your care. If you do not understand, please ask questions; you have the right to know.
  • To receive information about delays and reasons for cancellations.
  • To be involved in decisions relating to your health care.
  • To accept or refuse treatment. If you refuse treatment, the expected outcome will be explained to you in detail.
  • To know the name of staff involved in your treatment and care and their professional status.
  • To receive assistance with communication difficulties.
  • To be informed of how to make helpful suggestions or compaints to help us improve our service.
  • To have a wristband containing some of your details (This will be coloured red if you have any allergies).
  • The details that must be recorded are: your name, date of birth and your hospital number. If these details are not correct, become unreadable or the band comes off/is removed, please inform a member of staff who will provide a new wristband.
  • To have a member of your family or a friend speak on your behalf. This must be with your permission.

Your responsibilities as a patient:               


  • To behave in a reasonable and responsive manner.                         
  • To treat our staff with dignity and respect.
  • To provide hospital staff with a full information about your past illnesses and other health related matters, including any allergies you may have or if you may be pregnant.
  • To understand when hospital staff need to confirm your details, remember there may be other patients with a similar name.
  • To ensure you clearly understand the recommended course of action and what your involvement will be and make known if there is anything you do not understand.
  • To follow treatment plans recommended by the clinician primarily responsible for your care. This includes your medication and how it should be taken.
  • To ensure the details of any consent form i.e. correct operation site, are correct prior to signing.
  • To accept responsibility for the consequences of refusing treatment or not following the clinician's advice.
  • To be considerate of the rights of other patients and of Health Service Personnel.
  • To keep noise to a minimum and regulate the number of visitors.
  • To accept responsibility for the care of your own property, for respecting the property of other people and of the Health Service premises.
  • To attend for appointments / admissions, but when unable to do so, to notify the appropriate Health Service staff. This will enable another patient to be offered the appointment.
  • To behave in a reasonable and responsible manner.

You can read more about your rights and responsibilities in the NHS Constitution.

'I would like to thank all the staff for my treatment and their professionalism.'

Patient, Cardiology Department, Bishop Auckland Hospital