Intended for healthcare professionals


New push for patient choice will not automatically cut waiting times, leaders warn

BMJ 2023; 381 doi: (Published 25 May 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;381:p1209
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. The BMJ

A renewed push to encourage patients to exercise their right to choose where they receive hospital treatment will not be a panacea to lengthy waiting times and will risk piling pressure on GPs, medical leaders have warned.

Currently only around one in 10 patients exercise their right to choose which hospital they are treated in—a policy first introduced by the Labour government in 2006. With NHS waiting lists now exceeding seven million, ministers are making a fresh attempt to encourage patients to choose to attend a different hospital in the same region as a way of reducing their waiting time.

The government said that, after seeing their GP, patients would now be able to choose from as many as five healthcare providers on …

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