Prime minister David Cameron has cited research in support of patient choice as a driver for service improvement.
But Professor Allyson Pollock from the University of London and her co-authors warned in a Lancet editorial that the research, by Dr Zack Cooper, did not show any causal relationship between patient choice and quality, as Mr Cameron had claimed.
‘Cooper and colleagues have chosen to base causal conclusions on a fundamentally flawed analysis,’ the editorial’s authors said.
‘The potential consequences of the Health Bill are too serious for politicians to use such work as part of their justification for the legislation.’
They added: ‘Far from showing that competition saves lives, at best Cooper and colleagues’ study shows that people who have an acute MI and whose GPs are close to a hospital or who have many hospitals in their area might have better chances of survival.
'The policy solution is therefore very different from that currently being followed.’