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What you can expect from the NHS

The NHS Constitution sets out your rights as an NHS patient.

The NHS constitution

These rights cover how to access health services, the quality of care you should receive, the drugs and treatments available, the involvement you should have in your care, and your right to complain if things go wrong.

Under the NHS Constitution, you have the right to choose your GP practice and to be accepted, unless there are reasonable grounds to refuse. 

For more information see the NHS Choices website or download the NHS services factsheet.

Consent to treatment

One of your rights under the NHS Constitution is the right to accept or refuse treatment. You must not to be given any physical examination or treatment unless you have agreed.

If you lack capacity to make or communicate decisions about your treatment and you have given someone else the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf , then they can consent or refuse treatment for you.

If there is no one with legal authority to make decisions for you, doctors will have to act in your best interest when deciding whether to carry out treatment. To make a best interest decision, doctors must follow legal guidance and consult with family members and other interested people where possible.

For more information see NHS Choices.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

When someone lacks mental capacity to consent to care or treatment, it is sometimes necessary to deprive them of their liberty to protect them from harm. Deprivation of liberty is when someone is under continuous supervision and control and is not free to leave.

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards are intended to protect people from being deprived of their liberty unless it is in their best interests to protect them from harm and there is no other less restrictive alternative.

Under the Safeguards, care homes and hospitals must follow a procedure to obtain authorisation before they can deprive someone of their liberty. Without this authorisation, the deprivation will be unlawful.

For more information on Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, see our free factsheet Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.

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For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081