NHS patients to get more choice on where and when they have medical tests

Health Secretary outlines latest patient choice plans

NHS patients will be given much more choice about where and when they get access to some of the most common medical tests such as blood tests and heart scans, the Department of Health (DH) said today.

Under new proposals published today, from April next year patients will be able to pick somewhere closer to home or near where they work, instead of having to go to the nearest available option.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said that the reforms “are all about making life easier for patients”.

He said: “We will make medical tests work for you, not the system, by allowing you to choose where it will be most convenient for you to go.”

The Department of Health also launched a consultation today on its plans to give patients more choice over where, when and how they will be treated in the NHS. The system that GPs and patients use to choose which hospital for their treatment – Choose and Book – is also undergoing changes designed to give patients and their doctors a better sense of how long they may wait for treatment.

The new plans are outlined in 'Liberating the NHS: No decisions about me, without me', which details how more choice is being made available to patients throughout the health service over the next few years.

Critics of the government’s ‘patient choice’ policy say it is simply a mechanism designed to enable more private sector organisations to provide NHS care.

But Lansley said: “By giving you information about how long it will take for you to wait to be treated you will be able to choose the hospital that best meets your needs.

“No two people are the same, and that’s why our plans will offer patients more personalised care, ensuring that “no decision about me is made without me.”

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