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NHS Constitution comes into effect

1st April 2010

The new NHS Constitution has come into force today, providing patients in England with a legal right to fast treatment.

Under the new measures, those suspected of having cancer will not wait more than two weeks before seeing a specialist after being urgently referred by a GP, while people waiting for elective procedures will have their treatment started within 18 weeks.

Health secretary Andy Burnham said the constitution brings the NHS closer to reducing the gap between referral and treatment to around eight weeks and revealed that the organisation is already working on new ways to improve its services.

'We want patients to have the legal right to key diagnostic tests and results for patients who may have cancer within one week of seeing a GP, to die at home, to evening and weekend access to GPs and access to NHS dentistry,' he commented.

This week, Mr Burnham launched the National Care Service, which will ensure that all patients in England receive the free care they need when they are old or if they are disabled.

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