Choice 'damages public trust in GPs'

Increasing choice for its own sake could create scepticism and damage public trust in GPs, an academic study has found.

Researchers at the University of Surrey found that patients value choice because they like to feel they have some control over their medical care.

But that need is often fulfilled by GPs who answer questions and ask a patient’s views before making a referral.

Indeed, some patients told the researchers in the study published in the BJGP that they would prefer to trust the doctor’s judgement than to decide themselves based on incomplete information.

Offering choice as box-ticking exercise could give patients ‘an unwanted extra burden at a time when they are at their most vulnerable’, the study concluded.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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