Many patients are actively exercising their right to choose where to receive NHS-funded care, according to research by Kate Collyer and colleagues, published in the May 2012 issue of the Economic Journal.
The study analyses data on the choices made by more than 50,000 NHS patients in need of hip replacement operations. It finds that nearly four out of every ten patients choose not to receive treatment at their nearest hospital and instead travel to a hospital further away.
The authors suggest that patients opting to travel for treatment are more likely to choose a hospital if it provides higher quality care. Patients prefer hospitals with shorter waiting times, lower hospital acquired infection rates and lower overall mortality rates.
Recent survey evidence has shown that patients value the idea of choice, but this research goes one step further, using data on actual patient behaviour to conclude that many NHS patients are now using the options provided to them through the offer of choice to seek treatment on the basis of quality rather than simple convenience.
‘Choice of NHS-funded Hospital Services in England’ by Walter Beckert, Mette Christensen and Kate Collyer is published in the May 2012 issue of the Economic Journal.
Birkbeck College, University of London
Co-operation and Competition Panel
Co-operation and Competition Panel | Kate.Collyer@ccpanel.gsi.gov.uk
The Telegraph NHS patients ‘do want to choose their hospital’