Public should have their say on NHS Constitution, charities urge

Published: May 31 2024
Last updated: May 31 2024

Kami Kountcheva | Patient charity coalition National Voices is calling for an extension of the consultation process for the NHS Constitution.

nurses walking in a hospital corridorA coalition of patient charities, including Epilepsy Action, is calling for an extension of the consultation process for the NHS Constitution for England.

The NHS Constitution sets out the rights for patients, public and staff. It outlines the NHS’ commitments and everyone’s responsibilities to ensure the NHS operates fairly and effectively.

It is undergoing its 10-year review and the consultation process gives the general public a say on the constitution.

The group of charities, known as National Voices, has said the announced general election on 4 July will disrupt the consultation and prevent people from being able to respond. They said the process should be paused or extended “as a matter of urgency”.

Epilepsy Action is one of 67 organisations that comprise National Voices.

The regulations around the election mean the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will stop promoting the consultation. National Voices said promotion had “already been lacking”.

Half of the 8-week consultation will fall within the general election campaign period.

A statement from the coalition said: “We are now calling for the process to be paused or extended beyond the election.

“We believe that such an important document should be shaped by the next government, following the general election, who will have a clear mandate for any proposed changes.”

National Voices also said it has “grave concerns that the consultation process itself is inaccessible and therefor excludes a large proportion of the population.”

The organisation’s concerns include that the consultation is online only, uses overly technical language, has a delayed Easy Read response and there are no translations or British Sign Language (BSL) support.

The coalition said this “vital conversation with the public” should be restarted with the next government, “ensuring that nobody is excluded”.