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Drugs at heart of patients’ charter


A new patients’ charter that tries to balance rights with obligations is outlined in a 10-year NHS Constitution unveiled by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

While setting out what patients are entitled to expect from the NHS, it also says that they must take more responsibility for their own health and respect medical staff.

Rights include access to drugs not approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) including those that have already been rejected.

Obligations include keeping appointments, participating in vaccination programmes and recognising the “significant contribution” they can make to their own health and that of their families.

The constitution says that by allowing decisions on drugs “to be made rationally following a proper consideration of the evidence”, it would help end the “postcode lottery” in the NHS.

It says: “If the local NHS decides not to fund a drug or treatment you and your doctor feel will be right for you, they will explain that decision to you.”

Meanwhile, anyone facing undue delay for NHS treatment in the UK will be able to apply to have treatment in European economic area countries or Switzerland.

Copyright Press Association 2009

NHS Constitution

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