The Patient's Charter has been in effect for nearly five years. This article considers the purpose and value of the document through a comparison with the New Jersey Patient Bill of Rights. Patient rights statements have been posted in American hospitals for more than twenty years. However, the New Jersey document and the patient rights programme it established seven years ago, have proven to be economically effective, successful in their representation of patients and enforceable, due to the adoption of state legislation and regulation to oversee the process. Several examples of how the programme works are included in the comparison, with a similar review of The Patient's Charter. In the comparison the author argues that for the programme to succeed as it has done in New Jersey, the government will need to develop legislative backing to ensure enforcement, and an efficient system for monitoring compliance. The programme will need to become credible in the eyes of the health service user. The author suggests this may be best achieved by developing an efficient, accessible and user-friendly means of redress, should the patient consider his or her rights have been violated. A "mish-mash" of quality assurance standards and levels of care which patients can "expect" from the health service providers only serves to distract the health service user from the government's failure to commit the resources that would empower the patients rights portion of The Patient's Charter.
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