The law entitles you to pick the doctor and/or hospital you are to receive care of. Thus before making a doctor’s appointment in London booking, you are expected to have made certain choices. Those are choices regarding the hospital where you would receive care, and the team that is to be caring for you. The question that arises is how exactly you should choose the team/hospital you would be receiving care from. That is the question we set out to address in this article.
How modern healthcare patient choice works
There is growing emphasis on allowing patients to make ‘informed choices’ with regard to healthcare. The whole thing is a system where patients can go through various healthcare service providers’ reviews. Then they select the ones they wish to receive care from. It is also a system where patients can go through reviews of medical facilities, before making choices. That is with regard to factors like cleanliness, customer care, and so on. The reviews in question are often provided in a format similar to that of TripAdvisor. And, mark you, this is not just with regard to the Private GP London context. Even within the NHS healthcare context (all over England), this opportunity to make informed choices are available.-
The legal basis for patient choice in healthcare
We have to make reference to the NHS constitution itself, to understand the legal basis for patient choice. Now there is somewhere in the NHS constitution that allows the patient to choose the hospital they are to receive care. The said clause goes further, in allowing the patient to also choose the consultant team to receive care. In the same context, the NHS constitution addresses the timescale issue. It says that the hospital and consultant team one selects should give them the care they need within a certain timescale. In case they are unable to do so, they are legally obligated to give another option.
So that is a legal right you need to beware of every time you consider making a doctor’s appointment in London booking.
Factors to consider while selecting a hospital and clinical team
First, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) ratings can be very helpful to you while selecting a hospital and clinical team. So in this regard, you need to know how to read the Care Quality Commission ratings. Then you need to select a hospital and clinical team with decent CQC ratings.
Secondly, the various hospitals’ websites can help you in making the best choices. From the websites, you can tell what services the respective hospitals offer, and how their clinical teams are constituted. Then you can make comparisons, before ultimately settling for a particular one.
Thirdly, you can check the various hospitals’ customer care standards. In this regard, reviews from people who have previously received care there can be helpful. You may also check whether the hospitals have won customer care awards and such things.
Fourthly, you can ask the healthcare service providers you have been working with to give you their recommendations. This can be particularly helpful if you are a patient in need of a specialized care referral. So in this case, it is a GP referring you to a specialist. Now the law we made reference to earlier gives you, as the patient, near complete leeway to select the specialist you are to get care from. However, chances are that the GP would know the better specialized care teams and hospitals. So you can ask for the GP’s recommendations in that regard.
Fifthly, you need to consider the distance from where you live/work to the hospital you wish to select. When it comes to GPs, people are usually encouraged to choose that that operate close to where they live. Otherwise it can be very tricky to make it to a doctors appointment London slot if you are coming from another far-off city. Thus choosing a GP close to where you are is recommended. In fact, under the NHS system, you often find that you have to provide details on where you live. Then you are informed about the nearby GPs, from whom you are expected to choose one. However, when it comes to specialized care, you may find that there is no hospital or clinical team near where you live that can provide the care you need. This is where you sometimes have to look further afield. But it should ideally still be reasonably near.
Potential pitfalls and benefits of patients’ informed choice
Here, we have to start with the pitfalls. And the main one is in the fact that the patients are not always made aware of the options available to them. Indeed, as per one survey conducted by the NHS, only 40 percent of patients actually get to choose a hospital or clinic. It would seem that the rest are simply directed to particular hospitals or clinics, without really having made the choice. That is especially with regard to specialist referrals.
Another pitfall is with regard to low awareness about the right to make healthcare choices. Let’s go back to the survey we made reference to earlier (which is actually 2015 NHS annual England survey). As per that study, it was found that only 47 percent of patients were aware of the fact that they have a right to choose.
But turning to the benefits of patient choice, we find that those are quite huge. For one, when patients are offered a chance to choose healthcare providers, they are more likely to go to hospital and get the care they need. As per the NHS survey, when the right to choose healthcare providers is given, there is better follow-through. So in this case, 91 percent of the patients end up following through to receive the care they need. But in the absence of choice, only 41 percent of the patients will actually follow through.
What a patient can do if they are denied the right to choose
This situation may arise, for instance, in the context of a patient who is being given a specialist referral by a GP. Now if they are denied the right to choose, they should try to find the reason behind that (from the GP). In case the denial of the right to choose persists, the patient can seek help from the clinical commissioning group in charge of their locality. Alternatively, they can seek the ombudsman’s help.
Just remember that the right to choose the hospital and clinical team is available to you in all parts of the UK.