Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has protected patient choice in the NHS by banning Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) from enforcing minimum waiting times on referrals and putting in place caps on operations that do not take account of the healthcare needs of individual patients.
By March 2012 at the latest, all PCTs will be expected to have removed these unfair restrictions which limit patient choice and pro-long unnecessary suffering for patients. All decisions that could impact on patient choice must now be taken at PCT board-level and must be made public.
This follows an investigation by the Co-operation and Competition Panel into the implementation of patient choice in the NHS. Andrew Lansley asked the Panel to advise on any instances where PCTs were not acting in the best interests of patients or the taxpayer. The ensuing report in July this year flagged a number of examples where PCTs were unfairly restricting patient choice.