Headlines: December 11th, 1998

The Government has promised that it is prepared to consider patient charters which emphasise local difference, against the pattern of national standard-setting in the NHS.It has been suggested by some in the health service that the TV executive Greg Dyke’s proposals for making the patient charter a more successful tool could be sidelined.

But Health Minister Baroness Hayman said: “We gave a commitment in our manifesto that we would replace the Patient’s Charter. Publishing Greg Dyke’s report is an important step forward. It must bring patients, carers and NHS staff together in partnership to provide the best possible services.

“We will now move forward by consulting the public and the NHS on a new NHS Charter programme over the coming months.”

Mr Dyke has spent nearly a year on the report, The New NHS Charter – A different Approach. It recommends developing an NHS Charter Programme in a new way – getting local people, including patients, carers and NHS staff to develop local charters. These would be based on an NHS statement of principles and a set of national standards.

Mr Dyke said: “The research we have commissioned shows that the existing Patient’s charter has not really worked as well as it could have done, primarily because NHS staff did not feel part of it. It gave patients so-called ‘rights’, which were not really rights at all, and it engendered a blame culture.”