NHS patient choice project trialled

A new package of online health services has been launched by the government in an attempt to increase patient involvement in the NHS.

NHS Choices is being trialled in ten disadvantaged communities ahead of a national rollout this June.

Accompanied by a flagship website of the same name, the scheme is designed at giving people more information about diseases and simplifying the process of booking hospital appointments.

"We are determined to put patients at the heart of the NHS and making sure patients can access and share information about health services is a crucial part of that," health secretary Patricia Hewitt will say later today.

"Patients will soon be able to choose, with the click of a button, where they want to have their treatment. Our new choice website will allow the public and clinicians to access a range of information through one super site that will act as a gateway to navigate NHS services."

Under the initiative, patients in deprived areas will be able to use their local libraries to make hospital appointments, as well as receive assistance from trained staff.

Explaining that patient choice is about "people being in control", Ms Hewitt will go on to say that using public libraries and the internet is the "ideal way to support patients, families and carers with information".

In addition, the new service will allow patients a 'free' choice of any hospital in the country if they require orthopaedic or hip replacement treatments.

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