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The Citizen's Charter

The Conservative government, under John Major, launched the Citizen's Charter. The Citizen's Charter was intended to redefine the relationship between citizens and public services, with an increased emphasis on citizens as consumers.

Individual service charters were developed for different public services, including the NHS, outlining the service that the user could expect.

The Citizen's Charter and the Patient's Charter could be said to have foreshadowed the NHS constitution, in seeking to set out the rights and entitlements of patients.

The Patient's Charter was criticised for being unrealistic and for raising patient expectations. For example, the original version suggested that all patients should be assessed within 30 minutes of arrival at an accident and emergency department.


House of Commons.
From Citizen’s Charter to Public Service Guarantees: Entitlements to Public Services.
London: The Stationery Office Limited; 2008.

Drewry G.
Citizens as customers - Charters and the contractualisation of quality in public services.
EGPA Conference Bern, Switzerland; 2005.

Mold A.
Patients' Rights and the National Health Serrvice in Britain, 1960s-1980s.
American Journal of Public Health.
2012; 102(11): 2030–2038.