Less than half of the public are aware they can choose where they receive their NHS-funded hospital treatment, despite the legal right to patient choice having been in place for over a decade.
Although NHS England has committed to ensuring that by 2020 all patients are aware of the choices available to them when choosing their NHS treatment, just 48% of the public are currently aware of these legal rights, the Populus poll found.
Patients have the right to choose to be treated at a public or independent hospital in England, with hospitals paid the same for the procedure.
The Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) is calling for the government to take urgent action to dramatically improve public awareness of patient choice and ensure that patients are supported to make the best treatment decisions for them.
David Hare, chief executive of the IHPN, said that when NHS waiting times are at their highest in a decade, it is disappointing that patients’ awareness of their legal right to choose the fastest possible treatment for them remains so low.
“Making patients aware of their right to choose is not just the right thing to do but leads to tangible improvements in patient outcomes. We therefore want to see a renewed push to kickstart the patient power agenda so that all patients can receive the fastest possible access to treatment in the setting of their choice,” he stated.
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