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Wednesday 23rd May 2018

Hospital choice for patients

20th March 2008

The government will allow patients to select which hospital they wish to attend from April 2008 if they are receiving non-emergency treatment.

nhsdirect1The programme to extend choice within the health service was started in January 2006 and incorporates local hospitals and some private organisations.

The media will publish information about the programme in order to spread knowledge to patients.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw said: "Choice is fundamental to the delivery of a personalised NHS. People would like to have more control and be more involved in the decisions about their illness and treatment."

He added that more choice would help to improve standards within the health service.

The final part of the extended choice programme could be affected by difficulties with the current Choose and Book system for GPs, which allows appointments to be made online.

This is only in use for 50% of referrals because of delays to the system, forcing patients and doctors to phone hospitals themselves.

Researchers from the King's Fund said that the programme could potentially make "health inequalities" worse, because more educated people would consider multiple options before choosing, while the less educated and those from poorer areas would just go to their local hospital.

At the moment, a patient can choose from around five local hospitals and a selection of approved independent sector treatment centres, private centres and foundation hospitals.

Karen Jennings, head of health at Unison, said: "Hospitals need to concentrate on taking care of patients, not wasting time and precious money on their next campaign."

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