A new Populus poll has found that more than half of the public are unaware that they have a choice of hospital when it comes to receiving NHS treatment.
The legal right to choice has been in place for over a decade, but just 48% of the public are currently aware of it.
NHS England have committed to ensuring that by 2020 all patients are aware of the choices available to them when choosing their NHS treatment, as it remains the case that too few patients know they can choose where to be treated including finding a provider with lower waiting times - despite NHS waiting times having risen to their highest in a decade.
Strong commitments around enabling patient choice were a key feature of both the NHS Five Year Forward View and the recent NHS Long Term Plan.
David Hare, chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network said: “When NHS waiting times are at their highest in a decade, it is disappointing that patients’ awareness of their legal right to choose the fastest possible treatment for them remains so low. Despite strong commitments from both the Government and the NHS to strengthen the public’s choice rights, today’s poll shows that we are still a long way from all NHS patients knowing that they have the right to choose the best provider for them.
“Making patients aware of their right to choose is not just the right thing to do but leads to tangible improvements in patient outcomes. We therefore want to see a renewed push to kickstart the patient power agenda so that all patients can receive the fastest possible access to treatment in the setting of their choice.”