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Patients to be offered more choice

20 July 2011

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Patients will be given a wider choice of who provides their care from next year.

From next April, patients will be able to choose who provides their mental health and community NHS services, the government said.

This could include private companies, charities and voluntary organisations, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said.

Announcing the plans Mr Lansley said it was a “big day for patients.”

The move means that by next September, patients should be given a choice of at least three community services in eight areas which could include treatment of back pain, hearing and talking therapies.

But the move has been criticised by opponents, who say the decision represents the increased privatisation of the health service.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

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“More choice allows for more abuse of services particularly when it is free. Choice comes with a cost. Who pays? Who monitors? Just who will assess best value? And who decides value for money? I have been working in the Health Service over the years and have seen the culture that has existed and evolved over time. More money more service provision more choice less accountability and monitoring. When are we going to focus on prevention and self health responsibility?” – V Henry, London