Magazine article Public Finance

Doubts Cast over Patient Choice Agenda

Magazine article Public Finance

Doubts Cast over Patient Choice Agenda

Article excerpt

Doctors and patients have cast doubts on the value of the government s extended Patient Choice scheme as ministers did their best to advertise its virtues in advance of an April 1 roll-out.

From that date, patients having non-emergency NHS treatment will be able to choose from any hospital in England. But patients' groups and hospital doctors were quick to point out potential flaws.

Patients Association chair Anthony Halperin said: 'In theory it sounds good, but in truth patients just want to go to their nearest hospital. They often do not have the time or the inclination to compare hospitals and consultants, and travel constraints mean if they wanted to, it is not always possible.'

The chair of the British Medical Associations consultants committee, Dr Jonathan Fielden, said he was worried that crucial emergency services could be threatened because some patients would not choose certain providers.

'I am also worried that it will be difficult for patients to make informed choices. We still have a long way to go in collecting and having access to accurate, reliable and meaningful data that enables patients, working with their doctors, to make full knowledgeable choices about their treatment,' he said. …

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