UK Government

Department of Health (National): NHS launches choice and information revolution

Press Release   •   Oct 19, 2010 12:21 BST

Patients will have more choice and a louder voice under major proposals set out today by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

The White Paper, 'Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS', set out the Government's ambition to give people more control over their own care, from choice of GP to which consultant-led team they are treated by. Today, two consultations - on Patient Choice and on Information - set out proposals to meet that ambition.

Proposals to increase the choices that patients and service users have about their care include:
* allow patients to choose services from any willing provider;
* choice of provider for diagnosis;
* choice of which team, led by a named consultant, that they want to be seen by and what that treatment is after diagnosis;
* extending maternity choice to include pre-conception, antenatal, and postnatal care;
* choice of treatment and provider in mental health services;
* improving the choice of end of life care, moving towards a national choice offer in the future to support those who wish to die at home.

Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley said:

"The first principle of the White Paper is that the NHS should ensure that for patients, "no decision about me, without me" is the invariable practice. To realise this means patients must have more say and more choice. Today, I am publishing two documents - on an information strategy for the NHS and on extending patient choice, which will make this a reality.

"We want to go further than simply offering people a choice of hospital. Patients should have choice at every stage of the journey - where they register with a GP, where they go for tests, who they see for treatment, and what care or treatment they receive from any willing provider. Above all, they should be able to change these choices at any stage.

"Patients and service users should be in control and involved as much as they want to be in every decision about what, where, how and from whom they want to receive care. By giving people real choice over their care, we can build a patient-centred NHS that achieves outcomes for patients that are among the best in the world."

The Government also set out how the NHS will lead an information revolution, arming people with comprehensive information and data on all aspects of their health and adult social care so they can take control and make informed decisions. The information revolution starts from the premise the primary use of information is to support the giving of high quality care. The most important source of data is therefore the patient or service user's care record with data recorded once at the point of care. Our consultation Liberating the NHS: An Information Revolution makes clear how people should be given more control over their care records, and how the quality of care provided will improve as a consequence of releasing more data, such as on mixed-sex wards and infection rates.

Director General for Informatics Christine Connelly said:

"We live today in an information rich environment. The information we have changes our perspective and influences the decisions we make each and every day. The time has come to apply these principles to the delivery of health and care services. Building from a base of accurate care records the Information Revolution will deliver more informed patients, more engaged professionals, more efficient organisations and, ultimately, improved outcomes."

The Department of Health is also today publishing a summary of the response - over 5,400 responses - to the consultation on enabling people to register with the GP practice of their choice. The White Paper set out our aim to ensure that patients have the power to choose a GP practice that is right for them and their families, regardless of where they live.

The responses to the consultation clearly show that the public fully support this and want to have a greater say in their health care. A number of issues have been identified that will now need to be worked through and discussed with GPs, both as prospective commissioners and healthcare providers. We will set out the changes necessary to provide patients with a real choice of GP practice early next year.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Choice consultation can be found at:

2. The consultation Liberating the NHS: An Information Revolution can be found at:

3. The summary of responses to the consultation on enabling people to register with the GP practice of their choice can be found at:

4. The following organisations have welcomed the consultations:

A spokesperson for the Race Equality Foundation said:

"The Race Equality Foundation recognises the major challenges faced by the NHS to do more and better in improving the health of the nation and we welcome the forthcoming consultations which will provide a real opportunity for all to contribute to helping the NHS improve health outcomes for all communities."

A spokesperson for NAVCA (National Association for Voluntary and Community Action) said:

"Patients need the best possible information if they are to be able to exercise choice and control over their care. Therefore, we welcome the Department of Health's decision to consult on this issue. We are particularly keen to ensure that strategies are put in place to engage with the most excluded individuals and groups in our communities. Local voluntary organisations and community groups are ideally placed to play a key role in helping those who need support to exercise meaningful choices."

A spokesperson from Men's Health Forum said:

"At Men's Health Forum we welcome the consultations on Choice and Information. Both of these areas are key to patient experience and when taken together with some of the other proposals, have the potential to help to reduce health inequalities."

5. For media queries only, please call the Department of Health Newsdesk on 020 7210 5221.


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