16 October 2008
By Julie Read
The proportion of patients offered a choice of hospitals fell from 47% to 45% between March and May this year, according to figures released by the Department of Health.
The National Patient Choice Survey, carried out by Ipsos Mori for the DoH, also found that the percentage of patients who had been able to go to their preferred choice of hospital had dipped marginally, from 67% to 66%.
Hospital cleanliness and low infection rates were cited as the most common reason for choosing a particular hospital, according to the 90,000 people who took part in the survey.
Almost half (45%) of all patients knew before they saw their GP that they had a choice of hospital – 2% more than the March figure and 14% more than a year ago.
Half of all the patients offered choice used their GP as a source of information to choose their hospital while a third used their own experience or that of family and friends.
Since 2006, all patients referred by their GP should be given a choice of four hospitals.
The DoH also said that more than half of GP surgeries now offered extended opening hours – a 40% increase in six months.
Health Secretary Alan Johnson said this showed the progress being achieved towards meeting the aims of Lord Darzi's NHS review.