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Published on 30 June 2008

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Draft NHS constitution unveiled


An NHS constitution will help speed up the approval of new drugs in a bid to end the current “postcode lottery” of availability, the health secretary has said.

The draft document, to be unveiled today by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, will enshrine a universal right to approved treatments “if clinically appropriate”, according to Alan Johnson.

It will include measures to end a situation where some patients have been denied access to drugs by NHS trusts while others have not.

The constitution is part of a year-long review of the NHS by health minister and leading surgeon Lord Darzi.

It is expected to include plans to make hospitals publish death rates for dozens of conditions under his Next Stage Review of the NHS. It will concentrate heavily on themes of improving patient quality and choice.

Wide variations in the availability of drugs between local health authorities have been one of the most consistent complaints from patients in recent years.

Patients have complained that they are denied potentially life-saving treatments simply because of the area in which they live.

Mr Johnson said efforts would be made to speed up the approval of new drugs by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Copyright © PA Business 2008

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