Robust monitoring is crucial to patient choice

Letter: Good quality monitoring is crucial for informed choice, BMJ Volume 332, p 118

The monitoring of care provided under the new patient choice scheme in England is poorly structured and variable, warn two ophthalmologists in this week's BMJ.

They believe that robust monitoring of standards is urgently needed so that patients can make a truly informed choice.

Under the new patient choice scheme, all primary care trusts in England were obliged from January 2005 to offer patients a choice of providers for cataract surgery including NHS trusts, diagnostic and treatment centres, and independent sector providers from the UK and overseas.

Following concern about variations between different providers of cataract surgery, the authors surveyed the leaders of patient choice for each primary care trust in England asking how they monitored the quality of care from their providers.

Of 125 respondents, more than half relied on non-specific and service level agreements or patient feedback to monitor the quality of cataract surgery.

The public expect that safe cataract care should be commissioned for them, and robust methods of monitoring need to be agreed and implemented so that patients can make a truly informed choice, say the authors.

These decisions need to be made not only for cataract surgery but also for other elective procedures that will increasingly be made available to patients through the patient choice scheme, they conclude.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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