A new independent advice service for NHS patients in Scotland begins its work today.

The body was set up in legislation to give patients a legal avenue for complaints and other feedback.

Advisers will offer the service through local Citizens’ Advice Bureau offices and other information centres.

Patients are also being given the opportunity by the Scottish government to give their views on the draft Patient Rights Charter which brings together a summary of the rights and responsibilities that patients have when using NHS services.

The changes are part of the Patients Rights Act which also introduces a 12-week treatment guarantee from autumn for eligible patients who are receiving planned inpatient or day-case treatment.

The act was passed at Holyrood on 24 February last year.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Patients Rights Act marks an important step forward in giving patients more say in their health service. These measures will help reassure people that if they have concerns about care or services, they will receive the help and support they need and that they have the legal right to complain.

“We know that while our health service does a fantastic job, it is not perfect and that is why we need our patients to give us their feedback so that health boards can continually improve the care they provide.

“In particular, the Patient and Advice Support Service will provide information and help patients and members of the public to know and understand their rights and responsibilities when using health services.”