The first ever mandate between the government and the NHS Commissioning Board has been published, setting out ambitions for the health service for the next two years and reaffirming the government's commitment to an NHS that is comprehensive, universal and meets patients' needs and expectations.
So according to the NHS Mandate, what exactly can patients expect from their GPs?
The key thing that patients can expect is quality of care, according to the government, with the health service required to treat each individual with dignity and respect.
Quality should also be guaranteed regardless of where an individual lives, with the government keen to stamp out any instances of so-called 'postcode lotteries'.
People working in GP jobs will play a key role in many areas of the NHS Mandate, the first of which is the ambition to prevent more people from dying prematurely.
GPs will be expected to focus more on preventive health care by helping people to stay in good health, as well as doing their best to diagnose illnesses at the earliest opportunity.
Another section of the NHS Mandate centres around the quality of life of those with long-term conditions, all of whom will be entitled to a personalised care plan.
GP appointments must also be bookable online by 2015, along with the option to order repeat prescriptions via the internet and talk to practices via email.
Additionally, GPs will be required to make patients' health records available to them online.
Another area of the NHS Mandate focuses on ensuring people have a positive experience of care, with waiting times kept to a minimum and patients able to provide feedback on GPs and other health care providers through the 'Friends and Family Test'.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt believes the charter should help to give the NHS the right priorities to deal with the challenges it faces, such as the country's ageing population, the rising cost of new treatments and the opportunities provided by new technologies.
He said of the mandate: "By focusing on what matters to patients, and giving doctors and other health professionals the freedom to deliver, we will make sure the NHS stays relevant to our needs and ensure this country's proudest creation remains its finest."
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