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Fewer patients offered choice of hospital

The proportion of patients offered a choice of hospital for their first outpatient appointment has taken a dive for the first time.

Department of Health figures show only 44 per cent of patients recall being offered a choice in May. The figure had been climbing steadily, reaching a peak of 48 per cent in March.

The dip coincides with a period when many practices decided to boycott the Choice and Booking directed enhanced service (DES) in protest at the zero per cent pay award given to them this year. Funding for the DES ran out at the end of March, but in May NHS Employers agreed to keep funding the DES and this was backdated to the beginning of the financial year.

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