Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities summarises what you are entitled to and what is expected of you when you use NHS services and receive NHS care in Scotland. It also explains what you can do if you feel that your rights have not been respected.
The 'Accessing and using NHS services in Scotland' section of the Charter summarises your rights when using NHS health services. Some of those rights are outlined below.
Your health needs
Your Health Board must take your needs into account but must also consider the rights of other patients, medical opinion and the most efficient way to use NHS resources.
You must never be refused access because of your:
religion or belief
marriage or civil partnership
pregnancy or maternity
Cost of NHS services
The majority of NHS services are provided free of charge, including:
Services that you may have to pay for include:
NHS dental treatments (in most cases)
glasses and contact lenses (in most cases)
You can find out more about accessing NHS treatment in the following pages:
Registering with a GP practice
Every person in Scotland has the right and the responsibility to register with a GP.
Your GP is usually your main point of access to medical services and referrals to hospital.
If you move out of the area or are physically or verbally abusive to people at the practice, your GP may have cause to remove you from their register.
how you to register with a GP Attending appointments
It's important that you make every effort to go to your appointments, as missed appointments can have a negative effect on other patients’ care.
You should always:
arrive on time
let staff know if you are going to be late
let staff know as soon as possible if you can’t keep your appointment
make sure you are in at the agreed time if you are expecting a home visit
let the Scottish Ambulance Service know if you no longer need ambulance transport by phoning 0300 123 1236
Your GP practice, dental practice, optician and any hospital or clinic you go to need to know how to contact you.
It is important that you tell them if you change:
Registering with an NHS dentist
An NHS dentist helps you look after your teeth, gums and other parts of your mouth.
Find out to access NHS dental treatment in Scotland. Medicines
You have the right to be given all the information you need about your medicines, their possible side effects, and other options which may be available to you, in a way you understand.
You can expect that any medicines your doctor or other qualified health care professional prescribes will be appropriate for you.
It's important to take responsibility for your own treatment and care by:
asking for more information if you're unsure how to take your medicine
ordering repeat prescriptions in plenty of time
always following your treatment plan, agreed with your health professionals
telling NHS staff if you have any allergies to medication
always finishing your course of treatment
not taking prescription medication that isn't prescribed to you
storing medications safely, as directed and out of reach of children
Medicines in Scotland, What's the right treatment for me? booklet explains how you can work with the NHS staff to decide whether you need a particular medicine. Safe and effective care
When receiving NHS care or treatment, you have the right for this to be provided with reasonable care by properly qualified staff.
The care and treatment you receive must be suitable for you, carried out lawfully and based on appropriate clinical guidance and standards.
You can expect health care premises to meet standards of hygiene agreed by the NHS and monitored by the
Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI). Hygiene and cleanliness
You can help prevent the spread of infection in NHS premises by always washing your hands and use the hand gel provided before entering a hospital ward, particularly after using the toilet.
You should avoid visiting a patient in hospital or a resident in a care home if you are feeling unwell, or if you or anyone in your household is suffering from vomiting or diarrhoea.
If you visit someone in hospital, do not sit on their bed or touch dressings, drips or other equipment.
You should always ask ward staff before bringing food, drink or flowers for someone you are visiting in hospital.
Staff should always wash their hands before they examine you. If you think a member of staff has forgotten to wash their hands you should ask them to do so before examining you. Provide feedback
If you think NHS premises are not as clean as they should be, let a member of staff know.
You can also report any concerns to the
Healthcare Environment Inspectorate or contact HIS directly on 0131 623 4300. Using health services properly
To use health services properly, remember:
GP practices and local pharmacies can provide routine treatment and medical advice
Accident and Emergency departments (A&E) should only be attended in an emergency
phone the NHS 24 111 service if your GP surgery is closed and you feel you can’t wait until it reopens
Ambulances should only be called if a life is in danger
When using NHS services, you should expect your wishes about organ and tissue donation to be respected after your death.
To find our more information or to become an organ or tissue donor, visit
the NHS Organ Donor Register. Treatment within 12 weeks
Patients who are due to receive treatment have a right to receive the treatment within 12 weeks from the date they agree to the treatment.
This is known as the Treatment Time Guarantee and forms part of NHS Scotland's waiting times service.
Not all treatments are covered in the treatment time guarantee.
Read more about waiting times Cancer waiting times
If you're an adult with a newly diagnosed primary cancer type (such as breast, lung, head and neck) your health board should provide treatment within the following time scales:
Within 31 days from when the decision was made to treat your cancer
Within 62 days from being referred urgently with suspected cancer
These timescales include referrals from national cancer screening programmes.
You can ask NHS staff if your cancer treatment is covered by the national waiting standard.
Mental health waiting times
If you have mental health problem that requires support through specialist services, your health board should provide you with treatment within the following timescales:
90% of those referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) should begin treatment within 18 weeks
90% of people referred for psychological therapies should begin treatment within 18 weeks
It's important that you consider your health care needs when travelling abroad.
Each country has a different health care system, some expect patients to pay towards the cost of their treatment.
Before you travel:
Find out about the country you're visiting and their health system
Take out travel insurance to ensure that you’re fully covered