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Extension of patient choice is an invitation for private providers, warn critics

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d4683 (Published 21 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4683
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. 1London

The government is extending its patient choice programme to include some community and mental health services from next year, but the move has prompted criticism that it will allow more private providers a stake in the NHS.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has announced that from April of next year patients in England, who have so far been able to choose where to have non-urgent hospital care, will also be able to choose within other types of service.

New guidance from the Department of Health published on 19 July outlines how patients, guided by advice from their GP, will be offered a choice of “qualified” providers who meet NHS quality, prices, and contracts. There will be a phased implementation of …

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