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Patient Information

Volume 520: debated on Tuesday 7 December 2010

9. What steps he is taking to improve the information provided to patients on their diagnosis and treatment. (28706)

As part of our White Paper reforms, a wide-ranging review of the information required to empower patients is in progress. Related current initiatives include the information standard scheme, information prescriptions and quality standards produced by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. Currently good comparative data on the individual performance of doctors and surgeons are not readily available. How does he envisage compiling that data in a way that does not create too much bureaucracy or use up too much of doctors’ valuable clinical time?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right: if we are to put patients at the heart of an NHS in which it is their care and views that are important and drive the provision of health care, we must empower them by giving them information that is consistently accurate, unbiased and easily understandable. We are currently consulting on our information revolution papers, and we await a chance to study the responses. However, we are determined to empower patients by giving them far more information, so that they can exercise their right of choice to get what they deserve, which is the very best health care.

I would like to declare an interest and remind the Minister that we currently spend £1 million an hour dealing with diabetes-related illnesses. One key way of helping to reduce that cost is giving patients diabetes tests and ensuring they get as much information as possible so that they can change their lifestyles.

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. We have to supply all patients, including those suffering from diabetes as well as other conditions, with as much information that they can understand as possible, so that they can make the choices about the health care they need. They also need to be backed up with advice from their GPs, community pharmacists and others in the health sector, because that will empower them to take decisions in their best interests to manage their medical condition.

The Government have rightly announced, in the consultation document on patient choice, that all patients with long-term conditions will be offered a care plan. May I urge the Minister to ensure that that will apply also to cancer patients?

As my hon. Friend is aware, we are still consulting on that document and will consider the results of the consultation process before making any final decisions. On his specific point, however, my understanding is that that will be case.