GPs are reluctant to promote patient choice, health minister says

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 17 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6279
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Many doctors have dragged their heels over offering patients the treatment choices to which they are entitled, a health minister has charged.

The health minister Earl Howe told a London conference that the government would be acting to deal with the failure of the Choose and Book system to take hold, and criticised general practitioners for their reluctance to promote it.

“Many doctors take every excuse to keep appointments short and simply direct patients to the nearest secondary care provider because that is the easiest way to proceed,” he told a Westminster Health Forum seminar on the future of the NHS on 15 October. “Overall the NHS is not doing enough to address the choice agenda, which is valued by a lot of patients.”

Choose and Book would soon be relaunched under a new title—e-referral—and the government would be reminding patients of their rights to be referred to wherever they wanted, he added. Clinical commissioning groups would have to demonstrate that they …

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