How the changes will affect patients

Seeing your doctor

Seeing a GP could become a very different experience from the one we are used to – the little surgery run by a handful of doctors and a couple of overworked receptionists who struggle to give you an appointment at a suitable time. In future there should be a "polyclinic" near you, open every day from 8 am to 8 pm, regardless of where you are registered with a GP. While you are there, you could try some of the other NHS services, available in the same building, such as having your mental health assessed, or taking advice on social care or healthy living. These polyclinics are, however, up against stiff opposition from doctors.

The new NHS constitution will include a "right to choose", which should mean you never have to put up with unhelpful receptionists, or uncaring or incompetent doctors. When you visit a surgery, you have the right to choose which doctor will see you, and if you don't like one practice, you could visit a website called NHS Choices and hunt for another. And the funding will follow the patients, so losing you as a patient will cost the surgery as an inducement to them to look after you properly. You will also have the right to check your medical record online, and correct it if necessary.

The right medicine

If your doctor or clinician says you need a particular drug or treatment, and if it has been approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), you will get what you need. But there is also a notorious "postcode lottery" under which a drug that is awaiting appraisal by Nice is available in some places but not others. To end that, Nice is being expanded, and a new National Quality Board is being created to advise it on priorities, so it can do its job more quickly.

Hospital visits

Most people like the idea that there is a general hospital nearby which can handle anything from a simple to X- ray to major heart surgery, but Lord Darzi argues that this is not the best way to run a health service. People who need something as simple as a blood test, or an X-ray should not go to a hospital at all, he says: the equipment should be available at a doctors' surgery or health centre, or brought to the patient's home.

People who need what are now relatively simple operations, such as the removal of a cataract, should be also be kept off the wards and given day treatment instead. That is better for the patient, and much more economical. At the other extreme, people with potentially fatal conditions such as heart attacks and strokes should not be in general hospitals but specialist centres, even if that means longer journeys for visitors.

For those who are waiting in a hospital, the "clinical dashboards" should become a more common sight. These are large plasma screens that give information updated every 15 minutes, such as how long a patient can expect to wait.

The right to choose applies to hospital patients as well as doctors' patients. And if you don't like the way the hospital treats you, you will be able to get your own back by complaining. "For the first time, patients' own assessment of then success of their treatment ... will have a direct impact on the way hospitals are funded."

Bespoke care

In Germany, people with long-term illnesses are given help by health professionals in drawing up their own personal care plans to give them greater control over their lives. In this country, such plans are very rare, but over the next two years, every one of the 15 million people with a long-term condition should be offered the chance to develop a plan which will be updated regularly, with help from a named professional. The NHS is also exploring the possibility that patients with "fairly stable and predictable conditions" such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis can be allocated a personal budget so they can choose treatments.

Staying healthy

Originally the NHS was conceived as a service to heal the sick, but recently attention has shifted towards preventing people from falling ill in the first place, by encouraging a healthy lifestyle and discouraging or even punishing unhealthy habits. Today's big target is obesity. If you are overweight, you may feel a new entity called the Coalition for Better Health breathing down your neck, trying to persuade you to eat more healthy food and take more exercise. From next year, three million people a year aged 40 to 74 will be invited to take a free blood test, to check whether they at risk from one of the big killers – heart diseases, stroke and diabetes.

The whole country will also be bombarded with warnings against overeating and other bad habits, in a "Reduce your Risk" campaign. Other habits they will try to persuade people to break apart from eating junk food will include smoking, drug taking and excessive drinking.

NHS staff in the East of England have set an example the Government wants others to follow, by setting themselves a target of reducing the number of smokers in their region from a million to 140,000.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Life and Style
Duchess of Cambridge standswith officials outside of the former wartime spy centre in Bletchley Park
tech
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

    The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

    £30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

    The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

    £35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

    The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

    £43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'