King’s Fund study finds most primary care trusts fail to identify vulnerable people for patient choice

The government’s patient choice policy may be bypassing vulnerable people, including disabled people, a survey of primary care trusts by the King’s Fund has indicated.

The poll found 58 per cent of PCTs had not conducted any assessment to identify people who might need support making healthcare choices and two-thirds had not commissioned any services to support choice.

Since the start of last year, all patients needing non-urgent treatment were meant to be offered a choice of hospital by their GP.

The report said the government had acknowledged that some patients, including disabled and older people, would find it harder to make choices than others, and PCTs were given the responsibility of ensuring equal opportunities.

The survey comes with the NHS’s record on healthcare for vulnerable people under the spotlight, following last week’s Mencap report into six people with learning difficulties who it claimed died after receiving sub-standard care.

The government announced an inquiry into the deaths and their wider implications following the report.

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