A bit of history….
The NHS officially came into being in July 1948, in the wake of World War II, to replace an inadequate system of volunteer hospitals that had, during the war, come to rely on government funding. Doctors and conservative politicians vehemently opposed the NHS in the run-up to its formation. When it was launched by the then minister of health, Aneurin Bevan, on July 5 1948, it was based on three core principles:
- that it meet the needs of everyone
- that it be free at the point of delivery
- that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay
These three principles have guided the development of the NHS over more than 60 years and remain at its core.
In March 2011, the Department of Health published the NHS Constitution. It sets out the guiding principles of the NHS and the rights of an NHS patient.
The seven new key principles guide the NHS in all it does:
- The NHS provides a comprehensive service available to all
- Access to NHS services is based on clinical need, not an individual’s ability to pay
- The NHS aspires to the highest standards of excellence and professionalism
- The NHS aspires to put patients at the heart of everything it does
- The NHS works across organisational boundaries and in partnership with other organisations in the interest of patients, local communities and the wider population.
- The NHS is committed to providing best value for taxpayers’ money and the most effective, fair and sustainable use of finite resources.
- The NHS is accountable to the public, communities and patients that it serves
Patients, public and staff have helped develop this expression of values that inspire passion in the NHS, and that should underpin everything it does.
Working together for patients
Patients must come first in everything the NHS does. All parts of the NHS system should act and collaborate in the interests of patients, always putting patient interest before institutional interest, even when that involves admitting mistakes.
Respect and dignity
Every individual who comes into contact with the NHS and organisations providing health services should always be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of whether they are a patient, carer or member of staff.
Commitment to quality of care
The NHS aspires to the highest standards of excellence and professionalism in the provision of high-quality care that is safe, effective and focused on patient experience.
The business of the NHS extends beyond providing clinical care and includes alleviating pain, distress, and making people feel valued and that their concerns are important.
The the NHS seeks to improve the health and wellbeing of patients, communities and its staff through professionalism, innovation and excellence in care.
Nobody should be discriminated or disadvantaged, and everyone should be treated with equal respect and importance.