During last week's Conservative party conference, MPs unveiled plans to allow patients to choose their surgeon, based on league tables of their clinical performance.
But in a debate at the conference, Baroness Barbara Young, chairman of the Care Quality Commission, said: 'The big focus on choice does not seem to gel with what we are hearing.
'Patients do not want choice, they just want the services close to them to be good.'
However, Conservative shadow health minister Stephen O'Brien said that 'choice is a very important word', because it emphasised patients' own responsibilities in their care.
He added that once patients had chosen a doctor, 'to an extent, choice comes to an end. People want to feel that you will take over and get them better', he said.
King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson agreed that 'choice is coming whether we like it or not'.
He added: 'The days in which people were happy with what they got and thought all doctors were the same are gone.'