Commissioning groups will have a duty to ensure patients are aware of their rights to access services within maximum waiting times, the government’s full response to the Future Forum has said.

Confirming proposals set out last week in its initial response to the forum, the government has said one of its amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill will place a legal duty on the NHS Commissioning Board and clinical commissioning groups to “promote” the NHS Constitution.

In its full response published today the government provides examples of the “active steps” they will be required to take to “ensure patients, carers, members of the public and staff know about and make use of the constitution”.

It states: “For example, this would include making patients aware of their right under the constitution to access services within maximum waiting times, or for the NHS to take all reasonable steps to offer a range of alternative providers if this is not possible.”

The document also confirms that the NHS Commissioning Board, Monitor, the Care Quality Commission and clinical commissioning groups will be required to say in their annual reports “how they have carried out their existing duties in regard to the constitution”.

In addition, it says the government will make it “clearer in the bill” that the NHS must be free at the point of use and patient charges can only be introduced via legislation.

“We commit not to introduce any new charges during this parliament,” it states.