Economic Policy In recent times, the U.K. government has outlined its vision for choice in healthcare in the United Kingdom, as well as the changes required to achieve it. It was claimed that enabling effective choice for patients could be promoted as a means of improving the public services. The present paper examines the effective choice for patients and comments on how effective choice for patients can be promoted within the UKs National Health Service and whether this will result in improved health outcomes. The U.K. patients have few opportunities to make positive choices in U.K. healthcare. The empowerment of the patients and their personal choice are of essential importance for two major reasons. Firstly, it is important to understand that citizens who are involved in their treatment, as well as those citizens who have taken responsibility and control of their healthcare and those who understand the healthcare options available to them, have definitely better long term outcomes.
Secondly, there is an evidence of restriction and unfair access to care in the U.K. amongst the disadvantaged groups of citizens, such as the poor. Therefore, the effective choice should form a part of the system created to prevent the U.K. from unintentionally discriminating against the citizens with no sufficient resources to use the healthcare system. In such a way, enabling effective choice for patients will evidently result in improved health outcomes. The effective choice for patients should be obviously promoted within the UKs National Health Service, as the government recognizes the importance of user-focused and responsive public services. The U.K. Government has already developed various initiatives to promote the notion of effective choice for patients, and has developed policies, frameworks, and recommendations on how the patients can take more active part in decisions that have impact on their local health care services.
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Yet, there are still ways and steps to take to ensure that health care mechanisms deliver, especially for the poor and other groups of citizens who are more vulnerable and, therefore, have relatively great dependency on effective public services in the U.K. So, the effective choice of patients is often referred to as providing the citizens an opportunity to choose from alternative suppliers, that can be (or not) entirely within the U.K. public sector. However, the second approach to the choice, which has been more popular in recent years, is to provide the patients much more effective voice and choice in relation to the services, by means of complaints mechanisms, representative bodies, views, or surveys of individual preferences. By other words, this approach was aimed to give the citizens a stronger voice and putting the individuals in charge thus enabling effective choice for patients. In addition, effective choice for patients can be promoted within the UKs National Health Service through various approaches, including marketing health (this approach may be used to affect the citizens attitudes to healthier choices), and food labeling (although the government has policies concerning food labeling, additional enhancements related to the labeling in the food industry may be done so to provide the people with better information concerning the nutrition content of the packaged food) (Building on the Best: Choice, Responsiveness and Equity in the NHS , 2003).
The improvements in new service Health Direct will provide the individuals with more detailed and easily accessible information on possible health choices. Apart from that, the information for the media should also be provided (this may include expert briefings and public discussions provided by the health care organizations).
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As it was already mentioned, the government should develop additional strategies allowing the patients to make more effective choice and to promote healthier behaviors and attitudes in relation to food. The U.K. government should place more emphasis on the informed choice for patients, as the individuals should be able to make their own choices and decisions affecting their health, as well as they should have trustworthy and reliable information to assist the patients do so (Choice, Voice and Public Services, Fourth Report of Session 200405).
The government’s support in making effective choices should be tied to the realities of the individuals.
Finally, it should be taken into consideration that the successful implementation of this strategy will evidently need partnership across the NHS, local government, U.K. communities, the voluntary sector, and others. In addition, the UKs National Health Service should continue to enhance existing package of measures and initiatives offered for the U.K. children and youth, such as integrated planning and delivery of health care and public services, personal health guides (the booklets and other printed material aimed to promote health for children and the young people), and consistent and efficient support for parents and carers, to mention a few. The U.K. Government should also continue supporting the National Healthy Schools programme, as well as support underage tobacco sales, rendering support to local authority enforcement of tobacco sales for children and young people, and support the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy.
In addition, enabling effective choice for patients should include measures to develop and deliver effective actions to tackle inequalities, and to improve individuals health. Better choice for patients will evidently give the patients more central role in public services, and, at the same time, a stronger voice for patients through a number of redress and complaint mechanisms and representative public bodies will be necessary to succeed (Health, 2003).
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In such a way, effective patients choice and voice will work together to ensure that the U.K. public service are responsive to the patients needs. Additional supporting strategies that can be used to promote effective choice for patients as a means of improving the public services may include promoting personal health, developing the workforce, building in research and development, and using information and intelligence to target health improvement in the U.K. The strategies should be developed so to create stronger and safer communities, to enhance the overall quality of life (especially for children. the youth, older citizens, and families at risk), to narrow health inequalities and promote healthier communities, promote the economic viabilities of localities, and bringing positive changes in the local environment, to mention a few (Report, 2004).
Helping children and the youth to improve overall quality of life and to lead healthy lives may also include healthy and extended schools, school nurses, childrens centers and trusts, as well as supporting healthier choices (Leeds Teaching Hospitals, 2004).
Helping older people and promoting healthier life amongst them may be focused on communications, education, local physical activity initiatives and programmes, preventing fractures and falls, continued piloting and promotion in assistive technologies, as well as intermediate healthcare and intensive homecare programmes. Another subject at issue is that whether the effective choice may improve the overall performance of public services. It should be taken into consideration that the impact of effective choice on performance of public sector in the U.K. is often put into doubt, as there is no large national scheme now being implemented. However, the pilot schemes in health sector give grounds for optimism, and effective choice for patients may at least help to deliver better performance, thus overall increasing the responsiveness of the U.K. public services. In conclusion it may be said that enabling effective choice for patients will evidently increase the responsiveness of the U.K.
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public services and will make them meet the requirements and needs of the U.K. individuals. As a result, the service delivery and service standards will improve significantly. Bibliography Building on the Best: Choice, Responsiveness and Equity in the NHS . (2003).
RCGP Summary Paper 2003/15 . Department Of Health.
(Fourth Report of Session 200405).
Choice, Voice and Public Services. House of Commons. Public Administration Select Committee. Health, D. o. (2003).
Tackling Health Inequalities: A programme for action.
London: HMSO. Leeds Teaching Hospitals Nhs Trust Board Report On: Choosing Health Making Healthy Choices Easier & Associated Action Plan. (2004).
Retrieved from http://www.leedsth.nhs.uk/sites/board_meetings/age nda_minutes/documents/ChoosingHealth.doc Report, H. T. (2004).
Securing good health for the whole population..