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Responsibilities for health and social care

Bringing responsibilities into our conversation about rights


Three peopleWe were struck by how quickly people moved from a conversation about rights into one about responsibilities. People were quick to point out that we all bear a responsibility for using services wisely.

When we developed our rights framework, we considered the work others had done in this area. We are similarly aware of existing work on responsibilities, including those set out in the NHS Constitution (PDF) and the draft used by Consumers International.

These suggest a number of responsibilities that are a helpful starting point for this conversation. For example, they highlight the need to use services responsibly, recognising that health and care are finite resources. This might include registering yourself and family with a GP and dentist, turning up to appointments and not using A&E for minor injuries. They also point to the need for us to be active participants in our care, by keeping informed about health matters and taking medication.

Respecting staff, services and other people is another strong theme. This could include, for example, being respectful of staff in pressured situations, not abusing or overusing services and being aware that those with greater need will be seen before you. But these thoughts are just a starting point for the conversation and we want to hear more from you about how we develop a set of responsibilities to complement our work on rights.

We plan to do further research about how people understand their own responsibilities, and the interplay with rights and the way that services are provided.