New measures that will permit direct payments for healthcare to patients for the first time were published in the Health Bill today.
The Bill sets out proposals that will give patients more choice, greater control over the care they receive, and improve the quality of health services.
It will also place a legal duty on the NHS and its providers to have regard to the NHS Constitution, which will safeguard the principles and values of the NHS for the future, and sets out the rights and responsibilities of patients and staff.
The Health Bill includes proposals to:
The Bill also contains measures to extend the adult social care complaints procedure and a framework to allow HMRC to continue to share summarised and anonymised information on GP pay with the Department of Health.
Health Secretary Alan Johnson (pictured) said: "The Health Bill will strengthen the NHS - it will provide a legal framework for the vital reforms of the last few years, and especially those outlined in High Quality Care for All.
"People rightly have high expectations of the care the NHS offers, and they want more control over their own health - which is why the Bill will give more power to patients and drive up the quality of care.
"The National Health Service is our most cherished institution, and it is fitting that in its 60th year we set out how we will protect its values and principles for future generations. The Health Bill will ensure that all NHS bodies must take account of the NHS Constitution, protecting the rights and responsibilities of patients and staff."
Health Minister Lord Darzi said: "I'm delighted to have introduced this Bill, which is an important next step in the implementation of my review of the NHS High Quality Care for All. The measures in this Bill, such as quality accounts and innovation prizes, will help to ensure that the NHS is providing the highest possible quality of care to everyone.
"We consulted over 60,000 clinicians, public and staff and the clear and consistent message was that people want a greater degree of control and influence over their health and healthcare. Building on the experience of social care, the Bill allows the further development of ways to give patients greater personalisation and control over the healthcare services they receive."
The Bill was published today (16 January 09). It will proceed through the House of Lords over the next few months.