Government seeks to offer patients more choice and information

In collaboration with Adfero

The government has set out a number of proposals aimed at realising its aim of giving patients more control over their own care.

On Monday, health secretary Andrew Lansley unveiled two documents which detail how the government intends to meet targets set out in the White Paper 'Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS'.

According to Mr Lansley, the NHS should ensure that the "no decision about me, without me" mantra, which was outlined in the White Paper, applies for patients.

In order to achieve this, he believes people need to have more options made available to them and a greater say in how they are treated.

Rather than simply pertaining to a choice of hospital, Mr Lansley stressed this ethos should hold true at every stage of the NHS journey.

As a result, he said patients should be able to make a choice when registering with a GP, going for tests, deciding who to see following a diagnosis and assessing what care or treatment they would like to receive.

"Patients and service users should be in control and involved as much as they want to be in every decision about what, where, how and from whom they want to receive care," Mr Lansley commented.

"By giving people real choice over their care, we can build a patient-centred NHS that achieves outcomes for patients that are among the best in the world."

Central to this process will be an information 'revolution' allowing patients to make more educated decisions.

The government's 'Liberating the NHS: An Information Revolution' consultation argues the case for people to be given greater control over their care records as a way of improving quality of service.

Releasing more data on mixed-sex wards and infection rates will also help to drive up standards, the paper suggests.

Emily Arkell, policy manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "Information on different treatments, doctors and hospital departments is vital for cancer patients so they can be involved in making choices about their treatment and care at every stage of their disease. But patients can only make fully informed decisions if accurate information is collected about how well different NHS services are performing.

"To ensure that cancer survival rates in the UK are among the best in Europe the NHS needs to know how many people are diagnosed with cancer each year, what happens to them during treatment and the impact this has on their chances of survival. The NHS must routinely collect information about patients' experiences so that services can be improved."