THE NHS in West Lancashire is reminding patients they have the right to choose some aspects of their health care.
Patient Choice is a national commitment from the NHS which allows patients greater choice and control over how they receive their health care, empowering patients to shape and manage their own health and care.
Although in some cases choice is a legal right, all patients should be having a choice discussion with their GPs when they are being referred on for any further treatment. While the NHS leaders in West Lancashire are encouraging patients to ask about choice during their appointments, local GPs in West Lancashire should be making information around choice available to patients, discussing the different options available locally or otherwise, and giving patients sufficient time to consider what suits them as an individual.
Dr John Caine, chair and board member of NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:
“Patient choice is not new, but simply something set out in the NHS Constitution we want patients and clinicians to be reminded about. In many circumstances, this choice is a legal right and we therefore recommend all patients discuss what options are available to them.
“Patient choice supports individuals to be more involved in their own treatment, allowing them to opt for a shorter waiting time, an alternative hospital if one exists, and have choice over their appointment date and time to fit in with their schedule. We know from speaking with local patients that they would like more control and say in their own health care, and choice allows this which in turn often leads to better patient experience as well as fewer missed appointments”.
Examples of circumstances where patients have the legal right to choose include choice of hospital when referred to a consultant lead service for a first outpatient appointment, choice to request a change of hospital if they are likely to wait longer that the maximum waiting times at the chosen hospital and choice of who carries out specialist tests.
Dr Caine continues:
“We understand everyone has individual preferences which include being treated somewhere they can park, being closer to family, being closer to work, being treated as soon as possible and being treated by a particular consultant’s team. Patient choice aims to recognise all of these factors people may consider when making decisions about their physical or mental health care”.
For more information, visit www.nhs.uk/patientchoice and to explore what local services are available, visit www.nhs.uk. A small number of exclusions apply for example if a patient needs urgent care or if the preferred place does not offer the treatment needed – for more information search for ‘The NHS Choice Framework’ online at www.gov.uk.