Choice and Information on Health

The NHS launches its ‘choice and information revolution’ today.

The aim is that patients will have more choice and a louder voice under major proposals set out today by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

The White Paper, 'Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS', set out the Government's ambition to give people more control over their own care, from choice of GP to which consultant-led team they are treated by. Today, two consultations - on Patient Choice and on Information - set out proposals to meet that ambition.

Proposals to increase the choices that patients and service users have about their care include:

  • allow patients to choose services from any willing provider;
  • choice of provider for diagnosis;
  • choice of which team, led by a named consultant, that they want to be seen by and what that treatment is after diagnosis;
  • extending maternity choice to include pre-conception, antenatal, and postnatal care;
  • choice of treatment and provider in mental health services;
  • improving the choice of end of life care, moving towards a national choice offer in the future to support those who wish to die at home.

To realise this means patients must have more say and more choice

Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley said:

"The first principle of the White Paper is that the NHS should ensure that for patients, "no decision about me, without me" is the invariable practice. To realise this means patients must have more say and more choice. Today, I am publishing two documents - on an information strategy for the NHS and on extending patient choice, which will make this a reality.

"We want to go further than simply offering people a choice of hospital. Patients should have choice at every stage of the journey - where they register with a GP, where they go for tests, who they see for treatment, and what care or treatment they receive from any willing provider. Above all, they should be able to change these choices at any stage.

"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. 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."

The Government also set out how the NHS will lead an information revolution, arming people with comprehensive information and data on all aspects of their health and adult social care so they can take control and make informed decisions. The information revolution starts from the premise the primary use of information is to support the giving of high quality care. The most important source of data is therefore the patient or service user's care record with data recorded once at the point of care. Our consultation Liberating the NHS: An Information Revolution makes clear how people should be given more control over their care records, and how the quality of care provided will improve as a consequence of releasing more data, such as on mixed-sex wards and infection rates.

Director General for Informatics Christine Connelly said:

"We live today in an information rich environment. The information we have changes our perspective and influences the decisions we make each and every day. The time has come to apply these principles to the delivery of health and care services. Building from a base of accurate care records the Information Revolution will deliver more informed patients, more engaged professionals, more efficient organisations and, ultimately, improved outcomes."

The responses to the consultation clearly show that the public fully support this and want to have a greater say in their health care. A number of issues have been identified that will now need to be worked through and discussed with GPs, both as prospective commissioners and healthcare providers. We will set out the changes necessary to provide patients with a real choice of GP practice early next year.

Choice consultation can be found at:

The basic unit of all living organisms. Full medical glossary
The fertilisation of an ovum by a sperm cell: the start of pregnancy. Full medical glossary
The process of determining which condition a patient may have. Full medical glossary
A viral infection affecting the respiratory system. Full medical glossary
Invasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites. Full medical glossary
An element present in haemoglobin in the red cells. Full medical glossary
A large abdominal organ that has many important roles including the production of bile and clotting factors, detoxification, and the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Full medical glossary
Liable to vary or change. Full medical glossary