NHS patients will have more freedom to choose where they go for their healthcare from April 2012, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced today.
More choice will mean that when patients are referred for selected services, usually by their GP, they should be able to choose from a range of qualified providers who meet NHS quality, prices and contracts.
These providers could be NHS providers, independent sector providers, or voluntary or third sector organisations. This will enable patients to choose the provider best-placed to meet their individual needs and help to drive-up the quality of services for everyone.
To date, choice has only been available in non-urgent hospital care, but guidance published today sets out that the choice offer will be extended to community and mental health services for the first time.
Eight services have been recommended as the most suitable and this includes talking therapies, i.e. primary care psychological treatment aimed at adults.
Sophie Corlett, Director of External Relations at Mind said:
Mind is in favour of extending choice and availability for individuals in psychological therapies – both of provider and of type of therapy. We would hope that this enables people to have access to treatment in a provider near to their home or workplace and in a manner or by a therapist of their choosing.
Choice can also make talking therapies much more effective. In a survey carried out by Mind in 2010, service users that reported having a choice of therapy were 3 times more likely to be happy with their therapy than those who wanted a choice but didn’t get it.
Liberating the NHS: greater choice and control – Government response. Extending patient choice of provider (Any qualified provider). Department of Health, 19th July 2011.