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PCTs not offering patient choice

22nd October 2007

A Department of Health survey looking at the issue of patient choice has found that the right to choose where to have hospital treatment is slipping down the agenda of many primary care trusts.

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The study is the seventh carried out by the department on the subject and the findings have been based on 75,000 responses across England.

The figures reveal that 79% of people who exercised the right to choose where they received treatment generally felt satisfied with the process. A deciding factor for a large majority, just over 70%, was location and also the ease of access to that choice.

Factors such as lengthy waiting times or the risk of MRSA infection only influenced the choice of about 20% of respondents.

However, despite figures demonstrating that more people are aware that they have a choice – rising to 38% this May compared with 29% in June 2006 – fewer patients recalled having the opportunity to choose where they were treated. That fell from 48% to 44% this May.

The government has decreed that patients are now supposed to be offered a choice of four hospitals for their first outpatient appointment.

The DoH survey shows the proportion of people offered choice fell in nine out of the 10 strategic health authorities in England, though 152 PCTs were offering choice to 60% of their patients.

The findings follow the annual NHS health check which revealed that many PCTs still had work to do to improve the overall quality of service they were offering to patients.

 

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Comments

Anonymous

Wednesday 31st October 2007 @ 22:56

One area where patient choice is severely limited is in the provision of complementary medicine. Despite surveys that show that significant numbers of patients want it provided in the NHS it is not being provided in anything like the amount to match the expressed need. Furthermore, an unholy alliance of journalists and a few medical doctors is currently running a campaign to prevent CAM being made more available in the NHS.

Conventional medicine does not have all the answers, its own evidence base is extremely questionable, its costs are high and its adverse effects cause 10% of hospital beds to be filled with patients suffering from them at any one time. Not only would complementary medicine cost less to provide in the NHS but it actually saves the NHS money through decreasing the demand for conventional care in the form of expensive pharmaceuticals or surgery, and thereby decreasing the adverse iatrogenic exposure risk from them. Patients intuitively don't like to have to take pharmaceuticals, often for the rest of their lives. Intuitively they know that the holistic approach of complementary medicine is logical. Increasing numbers of them want to choose it, but can only do so if they have the means to pay for it privately themselves. Solidarity, equity, universality are principles that should underpin the provision of healthcare in the UK. With regards to complementary medicine these principles are not adhered to and as such patient choice is severely compromised.


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