What you should expect

What Are Your Rights When Using the NHS?

By law, the healthcare you receive should:
  • consider your needs
  • consider what would most benefit your health and wellbeing
  • encourage you to take part in decisions about your health and wellbeing and provide you with the information and support to do so. 
You also have the right to give feedback, comments, raise concerns or complaints about the care you have received.
The following factsheets will tell you more about your rights and responsibilities.

  Access: your rights when using NHS health services in Scotland

Hospital waiting times: how quickly you should be able to speak to someone at your GP practice, get a hospital outpatient appointment or be admitted for treatment

Communication and participation: the right to be informed, and involved in decisions, about health care and services

Confidentiality: the right for your personal health information to be kept secure and confidential

Respect: the right to be treated with dignity and respect

Safety: the right to safe and effective care

Feedback and complaints: how to have a say about your care and have any concerns dealt with.

What will you be asked when using the NHS?
If the NHS could know a bit more about our patients - a bit more about their individual needs and preferences rather than just their medical condition or history - it's likely that we could provide a better service. This is not just about gathering information - it is about making sure we are working with individuals, families and communities, rather then just providing identical treatment for everyone.

By law, we are asked to collect patient information on age, sex, disability, ethnicity, religion / belief and sexual orientation. This personal information is collected by staff in NHS hospitals, GP surgeries and other health centres. It is then used to ensure we are meeting the needs of our patient groups and for planning future services.

You might wonder why you are asked for some additional personal information. We know that a patient’s health is often affected by good or bad things happening in their lives. Most patients don’t know that it is helpful for us to know about these things or won’t feel comfortable or confident enough to bring such matters up themselves.

For this reason, our staff in many services are asking all patients about social circumstances that may be affecting your health or preventing you from getting the best out of the treatment we are offering.

For example, staff might ask whether you have money worries, trouble finding work, problems at home or in your relationships, or if you feel you are being treated badly or unfairly because e.g. you belong to a particular ethnic group, you have a disability, because of your sexuality etc.

It is up to you what you choose to tell staff when they ask about these things. Sometimes, if you want us to, we can share the information with other services or people so that you can get support or help in dealing with the issue.
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