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Doctors call for stronger commitment to shared decision-making

NHS consultation does not address basics of helping patients make informed choices

Mark Gould

Thursday, 07 June 2012

The NHS Alliance has today challenged the government to tear up or drastically amend its consultation on shared decision making between clinicians and patients. It says the paper “Liberating the NHS: No decision about me, without me”, does not fulfil the shared decision making remit and focuses almost exclusively on mechanisms to ensure patients’ choice of providers, a relevant but small part of the process.

Dr Brian Fisher, co-lead of Patient and Public Involvement Group, NHS Alliance, said: “Shared decision-making is a process that brings clinicians and patients together to select tests, treatments, management or support packages, based on clinical evidence and patients’ informed preferences. It improves outcomes and lowers health service costs.

”Ignoring this vital intimate work in the patient consultation threatens to exclude shared decision-making from NHS focus. This is bad for patients, clinicians, or the NHS.”

To ensure that shared decision-making is taken seriously, the NHS Alliance has put forward the following suggestions to the government:

  • That the current consultation paper either be withdrawn or renamed, as it does not fulfil its shared decision-making remit;
  • That the section on Shared Decision-Making is given the same weight and focus as provider choice;
  • That another consultation paper be written that does, indeed, focus on shared decision-making as defined above. It could explore evidence, good practice and ways of making it real for Clinical Commissioning Groups and local offices, so that they feel engaged by the concept and the supporting evidence.

Dr Fisher added: “The UK does poorly in this area. However, progress has been made in the field of patient and public involvement through the Act. It would be a shame to prejudice that improvement. The NHS Alliance’s PPI Group would be happy to support this agenda going forward.”

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