Patient Choice

Patient choice is one of NHS England’s priorities, highlighted in our latest business plan, the NHS Five Year Forward View and the NHS England Mandate.

NHS England is committed to making good on the NHS’ longstanding promise to give patients choice over where and how they receive care. This requires a radical step-up in awareness, offer, uptake and operation of patient choice.

The Choice Framework published by the Department of Health sets out the nine main types of choices that should be available to patients in the NHS.

Our vision is that by 2020:

  • All patients are aware of the choices available, particularly where these are legal rights
  • All patients are offered choices and have the information and support they need to make well informed choices that meet their needs and preferences
  • All providers make good quality, up to date information about their services available to enable meaningful and timely choice by patients, and accept all appropriate patient referrals in line with the NHS Standard Contract
  • All commissioners enable choice by commissioning services from a range of providers to meet patients’ needs and preferences, operate referral processes that support patient choice, and use appropriate contractual levers to ensure choice works well for patients

To help achieve this vision, NHS England and NHS Improvement have co- developed a CCG Choice Planning and Improvement Guide. This draws together the minimum legal and contractual responsibilities CCGs need to meet, but will also enable CCGs to assess how well choice is working in the services they commission, for both physical and mental health, within their localities and decide where improvement is required.

The guide focuses on helping commissioners, move beyond the minimum legal and requirements of patient choice to make “meaningful choice” a reality for their patients. For choice to be meaningful, patients using health services commissioned by CCGs should be able to say:

  • I have discussed with my GP/health care professional the different options, pros and cons including; where appropriate, whether to choose to have treatment
  • I was offered a choice of where to go for my care or tests, as appropriate
  • I was given an opportunity to choose a suitable alternative provider when I was going to wait longer than the time specified in my legal rights
  • Information to help me make my decisions was available and I knew where to find it in a format that was accessible to me
  • I was given sufficient time to consider what was right for me

The guide should support CCGs in the development of their five-year Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) that will enable Local Health Economies to plan and work together to achieve better health outcomes. (NHS Planning guidance 2016-17 to 2020-21)

During 2016-17, NHS England and NHS Improvement will provide further, practical support to assist with implementation of the guide and to help CCGs address any areas where a need for improvement is identified. To start with, we will be running a series of WebEx sessions to enable CCGs to find out more about the guide and support available. Join us to hear more about how to use the Guide and to ask questions about patient choice, to book on to one of these WebEx sessions please click on one of the sessions below and register your details using the online form:

WebEx dates

We also expect CCGs through the adoption of the Guide to identify areas of strength. We want to hear about these, as well as areas where CCGs have put in place robust improvement actions, so that we may identify and promote them for national adaptation and adoption.

For further information, help or guidance, email our dedicated patient choice mailbox.