The HSJ website this morning discussed a DH report on the state of the NHS Constitution. In short, it appears that while SHA’s are pleased with the constitution, the NHS front line are not particularly enamoured with it. Many do not feel that they are ready for it, many feel that they have already done it, and not even half of staff are aware of the constitution. What strikes me about the article is a quotation from the report itself:
‘A key challenge is therefore to move the NHS away from seeing the NHS constitution as a box that has already been ticked, to something that is vital and fresh.’
Why? If it isn’t fresh, why try to view it as such? Looking at the NHS Constitution for England itself, staff ‘responsibilities’ can be summarised thus:
Be accountable for your actions
Comply with health and safety
Comply with your employment contract
Don’t lie on your application or when doing your job
Note that none of these actually concern treating patients; those fall into the category of ‘expectations’ that staff should ‘aim to’ achieve. Consider this: staff are told to ‘aim to’ treat patients well, but only after they have been hit with a list of ‘duties’ that are legally unavoidable anyway. It’s unsurprising that a constitution stressing legal, bureaucratic and administrative duties should be ignored by frontline professionals who would rather spend their work day caring for patients.