Magazine article Public Finance

Patient Choice 'Favours the Educated'

Magazine article Public Finance

Patient Choice 'Favours the Educated'

Article excerpt

The government has pressed ahead with an extension to its flagship Patient Choice initiative, despite new evidence from the Department of Health that shows well-educated patients benefit most from the reforms.

Since January 1, patients have been able to choose where they receive their hospital treatment from at least four providers. But from this week patients can also choose to be treated at the 32 existing foundation trusts, health minister Andy Burnham announced.

The list will include the five new foundation trusts announced this week, and will be extended later this year to include 15 independent sector treatment centres.

But the announcement came as research commissioned by the DoH from consultancy Rand Europe, the King's Fund think-tank and City University, London, revealed that Patient Choice risks widening health inequalities.

Understanding patients'choices at the point of referral, published on May 31, surveyed 1,000 people in England who had been referred to hospital over the past five years.

It found patients with formal educational qualifications were more likely to choose a hospital with higher clinical standards. Those without qualifications placed less importance on above-average clinical quality. …

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