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Independent panel to assess NHS Constitution

The health secretary says a new, independent expert panel has been formed to evaluate the effects of the NHSConstitution on patients and staff.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley on Thursday announced the formation of a new independent expert panel, which will contribute to a government report on the NHS Constitution.

The government will publish a report on the Constitution in the summer, and Lansley has asked Steve Field, leader of the NHS Future Forum – a group of the country’s top health experts, to bring together a special working group to provide expert advice.

The NHSFuture Forum Working Group on the NHS Constitution, which met for the firsttime on Thursday, is made up of medical professionals, patient champions, staff representatives and charities. At the meeting, the group began to consider what effect the NHS Constitution has had for patients and staff since it was launched in 2009.

Lansley has also asked the Future Forum to advise him if there is any scope for strengthening the NHS Constitution to support high-quality services for patients. A public consultation later this year will give patients and staff the opportunity to voice their opinions about what can be done to improve and reinforce the Constitution.

Field said: ‘Throughout the work of the Future Forum, we have consistently said the NHS Constitution should be embedded into how the NHS works, and so I am pleased that we havebeen asked to contribute to this review.

‘The experience and – crucially – the independence of the group will ensure a thoroughly professional and balanced insight into what effect the NHS Constitution has made and how it can be improved.’

An updated version of the NHS Constitution was published on Thursday. Lansley said: “I believe in the NHS Constitution, which enshrines the principles that will always hold true for the NHS. This isn’t about starting from scratch – this is about revitalising these rights and pledges.

“Patients are at the centre of our reforms, and with the help of the independent panel wewill look to strengthen the NHS Constitution to make sure it is working for the benefit of patients and staff.”