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NHS patient engagement has "flatlined"

Patients want more engagement in the NHS and more control over their own care and treatment, patient reports show.

A Picker Institute and the Health Foundation report collating 1.4 million patient experiences has concluded that the NHS is still far from "patient centred" and needs to change to secure important benefits for future NHS sustainability.

Between a third and a half of all patients said they were not as involved as they wanted to be in decisions about their own care and treatment.

These figures have not changed over time.

"Despite positive readouts in many areas of care, patient engagement in decisions has flatlined," says the Picker Institute's Chief Executive Angela Coutler.

"It means the rhetoric of 'patient centredness' has a hollow core. If the Darzi review is really aiming at a patient centred service this must become a burning issue for him and for the healthcare system as a whole.

In 2004, 59% of patients said they were involved in medication decisions as much as they wanted to be and in 2005 this fell to 55%.

"We know from the best international evidence that involving patients in decisions can create more satisfied patients, better health outcomes, and a more appropriate use of healthcare resources.

"Engaged patients will, for example, stick to their chosen treatments better, take up appropriate screening, and on the whole choose less interventionist and therefore less costly treatment paths."

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"Only by ending the "doctor knows best" culture can we allow patients to be more in control. We all know from bitter experience that doctors very often don't know best. We have to make better use of technology including diagnosis databases and ongoing treatment databases and doctors actively oppose such technology not because of worries about patients but because of worries about their own job security. Doctors are the root cause of most problems in the NHS and it is time everyone else in the NHS stood up and said so. Any honest doctor will tell you that they only use 5 per cent of what they learned at university so why do doctors complain when nurses who specialise in a set of tasks say that as they know as much as doctors in these areas? Either these nurses should be paid the same as doctors or more realistically doctors should be paid at a nurses level. Cut doctors down to size, as one surgeon said to me: "I am no more than a glorified plumber", and he wasn't joking, it is time more consultants were as honest" - John Sinclair, Dundee