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Bill to create NHS constitution

The right to appropriate treatment and an end to postcode lotteries for drug allocation will be some of the measures stipulated in the first ever constitution for the NHS, it has been announced.

The charter is part of measures included in a Health Bill outlined during the Queen's Speech. The constitution will set out the rights and responsibilities linked to entitlement of NHS care, and the Bill will place a duty on all state health care providers to take it into account.

The Bill, to be published by Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, will also allow the further development of "personalised" health services and direct payments for health care. It also includes measures to protect children and young people from the harm caused by smoking.

Announcing the measures shortly after the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the NHS, ministers said they showed the government remained "committed to ensuring the highest possible standards of care and to giving more power to individuals to shape the care they need".

Unveiled in draft form in June following the year-long review by Lord Darzi, the NHS constitution is expected to enshrine a universal right to approved treatments "if clinically appropriate" as well as measures to end the postcode lottery where some patients have been denied access to drugs by NHS trusts while others have not.

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