Patient rights and responsibilities charter: easy read version

Easy read version of the revised charter of patient rights and responsibilities.

Part 1: Using NHS Services in Scotland

There are 4 parts to 'The Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities'. There is a further information section at the end of each part. This has contact details and important information.


A charter is a document that says what an organisation will do. It is an agreement between the organisation and the people who use its services.

In Scotland the law says there must be a charter for people who use the NHS in Scotland.

The law gives everyone the right to receive healthcare that:

  • meets their needs
  • does what is best for their health and wellbeing
  • gives them information and support to take part in decisions about their care.

It gives people the right to give feedback and comments or make complaints.

It says what I should expect when I use NHS services. It says what I can do if I think my rights have not been met.

The Charter says what I need to do when using the NHS. We want the NHS to use its resources in the fairest way.

Everyone who uses and provides NHS services has a right to be treated as an individual with dignity and respect.

The Charter is for everyone who uses NHS services in Scotland. NHS services are the services provided by health boards and include hospitals and services such as GPs, dentists, opticians, and pharmacists.

Some NHS services are now integrated. This means that decisions are made jointly by the Local Authority, the NHS and people from the community. Service users should be involved in developing health services. See further information.

My health, my rights, my NHS

Part 1: Using NHS Services in Scotland

I have the right to safe care and treatment. This is at the right time, in the right place, by the right person.

Discrimination and respect

Use of NHS services will never be affected or refused because of my protected characteristics such as age or gender.

I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect when using NHS services. My family members, carers, and NHS staff also have this right. I understand that NHS staff should be treated with dignity and respect too.

Health needs

My needs, values and level of understanding will be respected. I have the right to ask if my care is right for me. I can ask if something different can be arranged.

I understand my health board must also think about the rights of other people, medical opinion and the fairest way to use NHS services.

Cost of NHS Services

I am entitled to most NHS services for free but I might need to pay for some such as dental treatment and glasses.

I might get help with some costs. See further information.

Registering with a GP

I have a right to register with a GP. It is up to me to do this. My GP practice will be my main contact for medical services.

I understand that I may not be able to join the GP practice I want. This may be if I live outside the area or if they are not accepting new people. If this happens the NHS will find me another. See further information.

A GP practice can remove me from their list in some situations. This includes if I move away.

Registering with an NHS dentist

My NHS dentist helps to look after my teeth, gums and mouth. My NHS dentist can help with tooth or mouth pain. They give me advice on how to keep my mouth healthy.

I may not be able to register with a certain NHS dentist. I can get information on other NHS dentists from my health board or NHS inform. See further information.


I should do my best to go to my appointments. Missed appointments mean others may have to wait longer for their care.

If I cannot make my appointment, I should contact NHS staff to let them know. I will make sure I am in at the right time for home visits.

I can have someone with me at appointments to give support.

I may be able to get transport to hospital or an appointment. This is because I need it or require support. I can ask a member of NHS staff or my health board about this. It is called the Patient Transport Service. See further information.

It is important to keep my information up to date.

Using health services

Using the right NHS service will help make sure I get the help I need. I can find information about NHS services from my health board or from the NHS inform website. See further information.

I will be able to see a range of health professionals through my GP practice, including doctors and nurses. They can provide routine treatment and medical advice for physical and mental health issues.

NHS 24 can help me when my GP practice or dentist is closed and I am too ill to wait until it opens. See further information.

A pharmacy can help me with lots of common conditions such as coughs and colds.

My NHS dentist can help me with tooth pain, injury to my mouth or bleeding gums. They can also give me advice about keeping my mouth clean and healthy.

My optician can help me with pain in or around the eye and loss of, blurred or reduced vision.

I can get support for my mental wellbeing by contacting Breathing Space. See further information.

My local minor-injuries unit can help with cuts and small burns, sprains, strains, and suspected broken bones or fractures.

The NHS inform website includes information on common symptoms and self-help. See further information.

Urgent and emergency care

I should only use accident and emergency (A&E) departments in emergencies.

I should call 999 and ask for the ambulance service.

I can call 111 for any urgent health advice, when my GP or dentist is closed.

Both numbers are free to call, even from mobile telephones.


My doctor and healthcare professionals will suggest the best medicines for me. This will get checked to see they are working.

I have the right to be given all the information I need about my medicines. This should be in a way I can understand and so that I can take them safely.

I can speak to NHS staff and ask for more information if I am not sure how to take my medicines. See further information.

I should order repeat prescriptions in time, and only the items I need. This will make sure my prescription is ready in time.

It is important I take charge of my own treatment and care. I should follow and finish treatment agreed. I should tell NHS staff about medication I take. I should tell NHS if I am allergic to medicine. I should not take someone else's medication. I should not take medication that is out of date.

Safe care and treatment

I can expect that the treatment and care I get is as safe as possible and is right for me and my needs.

I have a right to expect that everyone working in the NHS has the right skills and training for their job

Hygiene and cleanliness standards

I expect the places where I get my healthcare to be clean. They will meet hygiene standards. They will be inspected. See further information.

I can raise concerns about anything that affects my care with NHS staff or the health board. This can be about the safety or how clean services are.

Hygiene and cleanliness

NHS staff should always wash their hands before they examine me. I can remind a member of staff to wash their hands.

I can help to stop the spread of infection by washing and drying my hands. I can use the hand gel provided before entering and after leaving a hospital ward and after using the toilet.

I will not visit a patient in hospital or a resident in a care home if I am unwell. When visiting relatives and friends I will follow the hospital's rules and cleanliness standards.

Organ and tissue donation

I have the right to have my decision about organ and tissue donation respected after my death.

I can register if I want to donate or not on the NHS Organ Donor Register. It is important to tell my loved ones what I have decided. See further information.

Treatment Time Guarantee

The Treatment Time Guarantee is the right to start receiving hospital treatment within 12 weeks after I agree to it.

If I will not get my treatment in 12 weeks my health board must tell me why and when they think it will be.

The waiting times may be changed if I miss an appointment or refuse to go. Some treatments are not included in this guarantee. I can speak to NHS staff and find out if the treatment guarantee applies to me.

More information about treatment times can be found at NHS inform. See further information.

Cancer waiting times

My health board should give me treatment to an agreed time if I am an adult with one of the 10 major cancers such as breast, lung, head and neck. See further information.

I can ask NHS staff if the waiting time standard applies to me and which cancer types are included. In some situations my waiting time may need to be changed.

Mental health waiting times

If I have a mental health problem and need support my health board should give me treatment in an agreed time. See further information.

Waiting times may change if I cannot make it to an appointment or I choose to delay treatment.

Treatment abroad

I should discuss all my options with my health board to find out if it is possible to have treatment overseas. See further information.

Overseas visitors (and UK nationals living abroad)

NHS staff may ask to see my health insurance documents if I am visiting Scotland from outside the UK.

I understand that I may have to pay for certain NHS services.

More information about treatment for overseas visitors can be found at NHS inform. See further information.

Further information

NHS inform

For information about NHS services in Scotland I can contact NHS inform. I can call the NHS inform helpline free on 0800 22 44 88 or go to their website at:


The Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS)

Provides support in giving feedback, comments, concerns or complaints about the NHS to help improve services. I can access the service by calling free on
0800 917 2127 or at my local citizens advice bureau or at


I can find out more about health and social care integration on the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Integration website ( and the Health and Social Care Scotland website (

Health & social care standards

The Health and Social Care Standards say what people's health, social care and support should be like. I can get Easy Read information about the Standards from the Scottish Government website:

Cost of NHS services

I can find more on what support is available to help me pay for NHS services in the leaflets HCS 1 and HCS 2 on the Scottish Government website:

Registering with a GP

NHS National Services Scotland can help me find another GP practice if my nearest one is not taking new patients. I can find out more on the NHS National Services Scotland website:

Registering with an NHS dentist

If it is not possible to register with the NHS dentist I want, I can get information on other NHS dentists from my local Health Board or NHS inform. I can call the NHS inform helpline free on 0800 22 44 88 or go to their website at


To find out if I can get transport to appointments I can call the Patient Transport Service on 0300 123 1236 or go to the Scottish Ambulance website:

Using health services

I can find information about NHS services in Scotland, including a directory of local services, from NHS inform. I can call the NHS inform helpline free on 0800 22 44 88 or go to their website at

Using health services


NHS 24 can help me when my GP practice is closed and I am too ill to wait until it opens. NHS 24 can also help me if I have a dental emergency when my dentist is closed. I can phone NHS 24 Freephone on 111 for advice.

If I am deaf or deafblind and use British Sign Language, contactSCOTLAND-BSL are available 24 hours and can help. Contact NHS 24 through their website:

Using health services

Mental wellbeing

Support for mental wellbeing. Call Freephone 0800 838 587

or go to www.breathingspace.sco

I can also get support for mental wellbeing by contacting:


'Medicines in Scotland, What's the right treatment for me?'

This booklet helps me to understand my treatment options and how I can work with the healthcare professional to get the greatest benefit from my treatment. To get a copy I can call Health Improvement Scotland direct on
0131 623 4300 or go to their website:

Hygine and cleanliness standards

NHS and Healthcare Environment Inspectorate carry out safety and cleanliness inspections across NHS. I can find out more and how to contact them through the Healthcare Improvement Scotland by calling them on 0131 623 4300 or through their website at:

Organ and tissue donation

NHS Organ Donor Register

I can call 0300 123 23 23 or visit

Cancer waiting times

Treatment given in agreed time if I have one of the 10 major cancers:

  • Within 31 days from when the decision is made to treat cancer until first treatment.
  • Within 62 days from being referred urgently with suspected cancer, until first treatment.

Mental health waiting times

My health board should provide me with treatment within:

  • 90% of those referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) should begin treatment within 18 weeks of being referred.
  • 90% of people referred for psychological therapies should begin treatment within 18 weeks of being referred.

Treatment abroad

I can find more about my right to go to other countries outside the UK for treatment from NHS inform. I can call the NHS inform helpline free on 0800 22 44 88 or go to their website at



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