A group of leading health figures will advise the Department of Health (DH) on how to most effectively engage people in the consultation process for the NHS Constitution, Health Minister Ivan Lewis announced today.
The Constitutional Advisory Forum (CAF), which includes representatives from the NHS, local government, the third sector and other organisations, will engage with the public, staff and stakeholders throughout the summer before presenting its final report to the health secretary later in the year.
The draft Constitution was published on 30 June 2008 and aims to enshrine the principles and values of the NHS for the future. It has been developed as part of Lord Darzi's review of the NHS and the views of NHS staff and patients have contributed to the draft Constitution.
The CAF is encouraging as many people as possible to participate in the consultation taking place this summer. They will be looking at working with a number of groups to get a wide range of views on the Constitution, from NHS and local authority community, patient and public groups through to taking the consultation into schools to get views from young people on how the Constitution will affect them.
Mr Lewis said: "The NHS Constitution is about safeguarding the core principles and values of the NHS for the next generation. The draft Constitution has been developed based on discussions with thousands of NHS staff and patients across the country. We've created the CAF to ensure that the final Constitution strengthens the foundations of the NHS still further."
NHS Chief Executive and CAF Joint Chair David Nicholson said: "The 60th anniversary of the NHS has given us an important opportunity to consider how it will meet the challenges of the future. It will empower both staff and patients by clarifying their rights.
"That's why it's so important that we engage with as many people as possible to consult on the draft Constitution and ensure it reflects the values of the modern NHS."
The first meeting of the CAF took place this month where all members committed to developing the consultation around the draft Constitution to ensure the final Constitution reflects the needs of all involved in the NHS.