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NHS \’needs a binding charter of patient rights\’ – Daily Telegraph

Daily Telegraph Reporter, Daily Telegraph, 10 April 2009

The NHS should adopt a legally binding charter to set out the care and treatment patients are entitled to receive, a think tank says today.

Reform Scotland says an "NHS constitution" would make public health care more answerable to patients and help end the anomaly of "postcode lottery" treatment. It also calls for a more "insurance-based" system similar to other European countries.

"By giving patients legal entitlements, it ensures the system is accountable to them, not government," it says. Setting the consitution at a national level "should help overcome the problem of patients in some parts of the country having access to treatment while others do not."

The charter is among a series of recommendations set out in a report entitled Patient Power. They include replacing NHS boards with "Health commissioning co-operatives" and the scrapping of centrally-imposed performance targets.

It also calls for supplementary insurance that would allow patients to secure treatment and drugs not provided by the NHS, without penalty.

It claims that despite a 55 per cent rise in spending over the past 10 years, Scotland lags behind comparable European countries in health care.