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Patients to be given choice of GP and consultant

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Patients will be given a choice of GP practice, consultant-led team and treatment, it has been promised in the health white paper published yesterday.

Choice of named consultant-led teams for elective care will be introduced by April next year, and choice of treatment and provider in some mental health services will be brought in at the same time.

Patients will be able to register with any GP “with an open list” from 2012, with choice in diagnostic testing from 2011, and eventually choice of care for long-term conditions and end-of-life care will also be brought in.

The DH will begin a consultation on choice of treatment later this year.

The white paper says choice of treatment and provider for the “vast majority” of NHS services should be the norm no later than 2013-14.

Patients will be enabled to rate hospitals and clinical departments on the care they receive, and they will be given more information to help them make choices about their care.

Choice in maternity care will be extended through “maternity networks”.

The white paper says the government intends that clinical teams will have a “meaningful, risk-adjusted assessment” of their performance against their peers.

It says there will be more comparable information on similar providers, based on: safety, including avoidable deaths, broken down as far as clinical teams; effectiveness, such as mortality rates; and experience, including waiting times and cancelled operations.

It pledges an “information revolution”, which will give people access to “comprehensive, trustworthy, and easy to understand information” on “conditions, treatments, and lifestyle choices”.

Staff feedback on quality of care will be made publicly available, and patient experience information will be encouraged to appear in real-time.

“Third parties” as well as NHS Choices will be encouraged to provide access to help patient choice, and provision will be made for patients who do not have access to a computer.

The white paper says patients will be able to download their health record and pass it to any organisation of their choice, including non-NHS bodies.

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