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Patient Choice Schemes

Volume 479: debated on Monday 1 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 20 May 2008, Official Report, column 204W, on patient choice schemes, which hospitals were affected by the system error; which specialisms the affected bookings were for; and how many cases were adversely affected. (221275)

The systems error is known to have affected 272 bookings, between 11 April 2008 and 24 April 2008, out of some 180,000 bookings made during that period. To our knowledge, no patients had their treatment delayed as a result.

A list of the service providers which were affected by the system error, along with names of the services to which patients had been referred, has been placed in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many primary care trusts commission the patient choice service; and if he will make a statement. (221729)

Free Choice was introduced on 1 April. The introduction of Free Choice has removed the requirement for primary care trusts to carry out local commissioning of elective care hospital-based services. Patients can choose to be referred to any clinically appropriate provider that meets national health service eligibility criteria. This will include NHS foundation trusts, NHS acute trusts and a large number of independent sector providers and their hospitals.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health which NHS foundation trusts put their services on the national menu under the patient choice scheme; which primary care trusts commission this scheme; and how his Department plans to monitor the effectiveness of the scheme. (221730)

All new foundation trusts and existing foundation trusts whose contracts expired by 31 March adopted the standard national health service contract for acute services. The standard contract requires all signatories set out relevant services in Choose and Book through a Directory of Service. Foundation trusts whose contracts extended beyond this date were able to choose to adopt the standard contract or to retain their existing contracts until the required period of notice to change had expired. These foundation trusts are not legally obliged to set out their services on Choose and Book and to accept patients under free choice though, under payment by results, this would mean a possible loss of potential income. At the current time, all foundation trusts have published a Directory of Service on Choose and Book.

The introduction of Free Choice has removed the requirement for primary care trusts to carry out local commissioning of elective care hospital-based services. The Department monitors free choice services available through the Choose and Book system and also monitors the offer of choice through the bimonthly National Patient choice survey.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he plans to extend the patient choice scheme to infertility services. (221731)

Since January 2006 most patients have had choice of where they are seen when they are first referred by their general practitioner for an out-patient appointment. This includes couples who are being referred to a specialist, either for tests to determine the cause of infertility or where the cause is known.