Health

NHS and care services patients told to fight for their rights

Hospital ward
Image caption Healthwatch England wants patients to be more assertive

NHS and care services patients need to become more demanding and fight for their rights, a new watchdog body says.

Healthwatch England, which heads up a network of 152 local patient bodies, urged the public to become "savvy consumers" rather than "grateful patients".

To help, the watchdog set out eight core rights for patients.

It comes after polling indicated half of people who experienced poor care did not report it.

The survey of more than 2,000 people found one in five had experienced poor care - but of those, 54% had not complained.

Healthwatch England was created under the shake-up of the NHS earlier this year.

It is envisaged that the organisation will act as a patients' champion, carrying out its own investigations and speaking out about issues of concern.

This is its first report to Parliament, and it has used it to highlight the deference shown by patients.

'Savvy consumers'

Healthwatch England chairwoman Anna Bradley said: "We all need to stop acting like grateful patients and care users and start to see ourselves as savvy consumers, insisting on our right to safe, dignified and high quality care."

To help achieve that, the organisation has set out its list of rights:

  • the right to essential services
  • the right to access
  • the right to a safe, dignified and quality service
  • the right to information and education
  • the right to choose
  • the right to be listened to
  • the right to be involved
  • the right to live in a healthy environment

Ms Bradley added: "Consumer rights are second nature to us on the High Street, but by thinking this way we can ensure people have a voice at the heart of the health and social care system."

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said he welcomed the initiative.

"Without real and meaningful input from patients, it is impossible for health and care services to improve and move forward in the future," he added.

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