Patients' Rights: What You're Entitled To

Reading time: 3 mins

Carrie Tennick, December 07, 2021

As a patient of the NHS, you have rights. These are set out in the NHS Constitution, which everyone can access and read.

The NHS Constitution sets out your patient rights and what you’re entitled to. This includes your safety as a patient.

We’ve put together this guide so you can easily find out what your rights are.

Patients’ rights

As an NHS patient, you are entitled to:

  • Access to healthcare

You have the right to access healthcare from the NHS for free. There are certain exceptions to this, but these are rare.

The NHS exists to provide care to everyone. As a result, one of the most important rights you have is access to NHS services. You are entitled to treatment for any health issues. And this treatment should be appropriate to you and reflect your preferences.

  • Right to quality care

According to the NHS, you have the right to “be treated with a professional standard of care, by appropriately qualified and experienced staff, in a properly approved or registered organisation that meets required levels of safety and quality”.

If your care is not of an appropriate standard and you are harmed by your medical team, you could be able to make a medical negligence claim against the NHS.

  • Right to respect

You are entitled to be treated with respect and dignity. The NHS Constitution sets out that you have the right to refuse treatment offered to you. It also states that you have the right to not be treated if you do not give valid consent.

For consent to be valid, it must be voluntary and informed. This includes having all the information on risks and what the treatment involves. If you do not get this information, a treatment could be considered medical negligence if it goes ahead.

  • Informed choice

Choice is an important right when it comes to your treatment by the NHS. You have the right to choose your GP practice, as well as the right to information on the quality of local healthcare providers compared to others.

You are entitled to make your own choices about the care you receive. Making an informed decision is hugely important to ensuring you get the right treatment for you.

  • Right to complain

If your treatment falls short of acceptable standards, you are entitled to make a complaint against the NHS.

Although a complaint isn’t a compensation claim, it can form part of your case if you do choose to take legal action.

Additional patients’ rights

You have other patient rights set out in the NHS Constitution. These include the right to drugs and treatment recommended by NICE, as well as the right to be involved in your own healthcare.

If you think any of your rights as an NHS patient have been violated, you can complain to the health service. You could also be entitled to make a medical negligence claim.

A specialist clinical negligence solicitor will be able to help you work out the best course of action for you. To be matched to an expert in this field, just get in touch with the First4Lawyers team.

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