Patients shun quality data, King's Fund survey shows
By Nigel Praities
Patients prefer to rely on their own experience or their GP's advice rather than quality measures when choosing a hospital, a survey from the King's Fund reveals.
Fewer than one in 10 of the 6,000 patients surveyed said they used official performance data when choosing a hospital, despite the decisison to spend millions publishing it.
In contrast, more than 40% of patients booking an outpatient appointment this January relied on their own experience, 36% asked their GP's advice and a fifth consulted family or friends.
Only 4% said they used NHS Choices to make their decision and 3% consulted the hospital's website.
Patients have had the choice of any hospital before they are referred since April 2008, but the survey showed only half of patients recalled being offered this.
Those offered choice were only slightly more likely to choose a different hospital, with 29% travelling to a non-local hospital compared with 21% of those not offered a choice.
Dr Anna Dixon, report co-author and director of policy at The King's Fund said the survey showed patients were not using the ‘wealth of information' available in official reports and in NHS Choices to make their decision.
‘If policy makers want patient choice to drive up quality more needs to be done to let patients know this information is available and make the data relevant, accessible and easy to use,' she said.
Dr Siraj Shah, a GP in Gravesend, said: ‘Not a single patient of mine has said they want to be referred to a particular hospital or consultant, they leave it to me. As a GP you know if a consultant has made a mess of your patients and you don't refer there.'