On 13 November 2012, peers heard a statement on the "NHS Mandate", a document setting out goals on improving healthcare in England.
The statement was delivered in the Commons first by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who told MPs he hoped the mandate would "reduce avoidable mortality rates for the major killer diseases".
The mandate has been described as a contract between the government and the NHS Commissioning Board, a new body which will supervise the new GP-led commissioning groups.
These clinical commissioning groups will take charge of much of the NHS budget in England next year.
The health secretary said the mandate should also:
• make it easier for patients to contact their local GP, for example via email
• enable patients to book appointments and renew prescriptions online
• ensure that every pregnant woman saw the same midwife throughout their contact with the healthcare system, in an effort to improve the diagnosis of post-natal depression
• ask patients whether they would recommend the service they had received to relatives and friends
• improve its care for vulnerable patients.
Labour welcomed some of the proposals put forward by the government, but questioned how the mandate would fit in with the "financial reality" in the NHS.
"Is it realistic about expectations or is it little more than a Christmas shopping list that is unlikely to be realised in full?" opposition spokesman Lord Hunt of Kings Heath asked.
Lord Walton of Detchant, a crossbench peer, welcomed the mandate, in particular its emphasis on management of long-term conditions such as diabetes.
Liberal Democrat Baroness Williams of Crosby said more work was needed to improve rehabilitation services in the NHS.