The NHS choice survey, which has been carried out in its current form for the past two years, shows that the proportion of patients who said that they recalled being offered a choice of hospital or clinic for their first appointment was at 40% in 2015, up from 38% in 2014.
What the Minister just left out from his answer is that the figure was 50% when Labour left power in 2010. How does he explain this worrying fall in the proportion of patients being given a choice on the Conservatives’ watch? Will he reaffirm that choice is a legal right under the NHS constitution? Will he acknowledge that the introduction of choice by the Labour Government has been a major driver in improving NHS performance across the piece?
The fact the right hon. Gentleman missed out was that that was a different survey, so the figures are not comparable. However, I agree that choice is important. We are still not doing enough, and we should do more. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the team at his local hospital, which has just been rated good by the CQC—the first hospital in the south-west to receive that rating.
Patients needing mental health services do not get to choose where they receive their care, as highlighted in the Commission on Acute Adult Psychiatric Care report, which was published today. The report says
“the whole system has suffered from a steady attrition in funding…in recent years.”
“poor quality of care, inadequate staffing and low morale.”
It describes the situation as “potentially dangerous”. Does the Minister now accept that the Government have let vulnerable people down? Will he implement the commission’s recommendations in full to put this serious situation right?
We have just received the report. It is a good report; we have taken note of it; and NHS England is already working on its recommendations. I remind the hon. Lady that this Government have put mental health on equal parity of esteem within the NHS constitution for the first time. [Interruption.] Opposition Front Benchers say that is meaningless, but why did they not do it when they were in office? We have done it for the first time and we are acting on it, not just in the constitution but in funding for the NHS, which is going up in real terms in the course of this spending review.