The launch of the NHS Constitution in 2009 was heralded as 'a momentous point in the history of the NHS' by then health secretary Alan Johnson.
Its creation (a key recommendation of Lord Darzi's review of the NHS, the previous year), represented a way of setting out clearly the NHS principles alongside patients' rights. However, three years on, awareness of constitution, which applies to all providers of NHS services, remains limited.
A recent DH-commissioned survey found just 27 per cent of British people are aware of the constitution, only five per cent more than in 2009. Less than half (45 per cent) of NHS staff are aware of it, although this figure is 14 per cent higher than in 2009.
A lack of 'direct public-facing communications on the subject' has been a key factor in the lack public awareness, whereas health professionals have benefitted from promotion in staff meetings and the specialist medical media.
Primary care staff are comparatively well informed about the constitution. The survey found 78 per cent of GPs and 63 per cent of primary care nurses were aware of it compared to just 58 per cent of hospital nurses.