GPs will be able to offer patients the choice of a named consultant-led team when they are referred to hospital from next April, the Government announced today.
No geographical boundaries will be imposed on referrals, and patients will be free to choose the consultant team they believe best meets their individual needs.
Trusts will also have to publish more information about their consultants and the services they provide, under the plans.
Some services - such as A&E, cancer, maternity and mental health - are excluded from the plans.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘To date patient choice in the NHS has been very limited, but that's all about to change.'
'We know that transparency can drive up standards of care and improve services for patients, and that's what this is all about – providing real choices for people over their care, leading to better results.'
In the Government's consultation on the plans, two-thirds of respondents supported the idea of giving patients the choice of a named consultant-led team.
The RCGP said in the consultation: ‘We broadly agree that these are steps in the right direction.'
A DH survey linked to the new policy showed that nearly three quarters of patients want more choice in who provides their hospital care.