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Nurses have a role to play in helping patients to choose the best care provider

16th April 2013

Peate I (2013) The NHS Choice Framework: take your pick. Br J Nurs 22(7): 36

This editorial draws attention to the main theme of Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS (Department of Health [DH], 2010), which was followed by a further document in 2011 offering more guidance on patient choice (DH, 2011).

Patient choice is not new, as patients needing specialist referral have been offered a choice of four or five providers since January 2006. However, to take advantage of such choice, patients need to be aware of what is available and have the capacity to choose the best option.

Changes to the NHS Constitution also include recognising care plans as tantamount to an agreement between patients and their GPs as to what care they are given. This will also apply to care plans decided upon by nurses with their patients, making them more accountable for the care they give while also putting them in a position to offer advice as to the choices of providers available for patients.

The author concludes that it is here that nurses should help in speaking up for patients to ensure that the best choice is, indeed, made, thereby acting as advocates for the principles of ‘free choice’ of provider and enabling the patient to be genuinely involved in their care, which supports the mantra of ‘no decision about me, without me’.


Department of Health (2010) Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS. DH, London. Available online at:

Department of Health (2011) Operational Guidance to the NHS: Extending Patient Choice of Provider. DH, London. Available online at:

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