Honesty on choice

Gail Beer, Consultant Director and Julia Manning, Chief Exec

Stephen Bubb was on the BBC this morning talking a lot of sense about choice. But what do we mean by choice? The current system has limited flexibility due to the commissioning process and contract caps. Choice is only available in as much as the NHS lets you have it.  Without a real market place within health between NHS organisations, the private and 3rd sectors choice cannot drive up the quality of care as much as is talked about.  NHS organisations are not allowed to fail. Choice of provider is often limited outside of major cities due to a lack of alternative providers.  The public need to know this – otherwise they will feel mislead and let down.

If we are to have choice let’s make it relevant, understandable and give the patient and their carers real choices; stick to basics and get that right.

  • Treatment when you want it with all providers offering extended times not just 9-5
  • Treatment options on implants, prosthetics and drugs with the right to choose to top-up if you want to – choices are currently being denied because of the inability to do this.
  • The right to choose a provider nearer to those who care for you
  • The right to choose your GP and pathway provider
  • Accept some patients don’t want choice

Giving choice makes demands on clinical time in order to explain to patients.  Choice requires a less paternalistic approach and partnership with patients needs to be increased. Through working in partnership and giving patients more understanding of their options on treatment we may well see a greater clamour for choice on provider and all the risks that brings with it for organisations who fail to deliver.



About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social entrepreneur, writer, campaigner and commentator. She is based in London and is the founder and Chief Executive of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal. Through networking, technology, research, relationships and campaigning 2020health has influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. Julia studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991. Her career has included being a visiting lecturer at City University, a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital, working with south London Primary Care Trusts and as a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. She specialised in diabetes (University of Warwick Certificate in Diabetic Care) and founded Julia Manning Eyecare in 2004, a home and prison visiting practice for people with mental and physical disabilities using the latest digital technology, which she sold to Healthcall (now part of Specsavers) in 2009. Experiences of working in the NHS, contributing to policy development, raising two children in the inner-city and standing in the General Election in Bristol in 2005 led to Julia forming 2020health at the end of 2006. Julia is a regular guest on TV and radio shows such as BBC News, ITV’s Daybreak/ GMB, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions, BBC Radio, LBC and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week. She is mum to a rugby-mad son, a daughter passionate about Shakespeare, and wife of a comprehensive school assistant head-teacher. She loves gardening, ballet, Zimbabwe, her Westies Skye and Angus, is an honorary research associate at UCL and a Fellow of the RSA.
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