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Consumer rights in health and social care: background

We want to put the voice of the public at the heart of health and care. In our Annual Report we proposed a new approach built around eight consumer rights.

This approach was developed with the public. We asked people to draw on their own experiences to give feedback on existing rights frameworks including the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection.

At the beginning, the people we spoke to didn’t frame their discussion in terms of rights. They didn’t want to demand too much from the health and care services, which they thought were already stretched.

Despite not talking about rights spontaneously, when we presented them with the framework people quickly got excited. The public found the rights to be a useful starting point, but wanted to improve and develop them and make them easier to understand.

By the end of our conversations, the people we spoke to saw real value in adopting a rights approach, suggesting that it could introduce a greater level of accountability and ensure health and care systems are more focused on the people they are serving.

We brought all this work together into our new rights framework. What is clear is that the rights in this framework overlap and interlink. Taking each right individually only gives us part of the picture, however looking at the entire set of rights gives a full view of what consumers should expect in health and care.

In relation to the NHS, we intend to use our new consumer rights framework to identify where there are gaps in the NHS Constitution and challenge the system to go further in order to meet people's expectations.