A fear of counter-accusations has left patients are fearful of raising concerns about their healthcare experience, according to a Patient’s Association report.

There is a “huge gap” between the commitments outlined in the NHS Constitution and the reality of being a patient in the current health and social system, claims Why our NHS should listen and be human.

The patent champion organisation found patients also feel they are not always informed of events affecting their healthcare.

A lack of openness and transparency in communication between health and social care and inconsistencies in the provision of care are the “two crucial themes” that need to be addressed, said the report.

The NHS was accused of “failing many of the most vulnerable members of society” by chief executive of the Patient’s Association, Katherine Murphy.

“Patients and the public have told us about inconsistencies in the provision of care, poor standards of care and compassion and a lack of transparency and openness in communication between patients, their families and healthcare staff.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said patients had a right to expect excellent care and compassion across both the NHS and care sector.

“The scandals of MidStaffs and Winterbourne View have highlighted the need for better transparency, patient voice and a focus on compassionate care - especially for our most vulnerable patients,” they said.

“Staff within the NHS are also doing more than ever to provide safe and compassionate care as the recent Hello My Name Is campaign shows. These and other significant measures are making the NHS more patient-focussed, open, safe and transparent.

"But more needs to be done - including to support whistle-blowers who identify bad practice - which is why we asked Sir Robert Francis to carry out an independent report which we are now considering the recommendations of - on how we can make this happen.”