Choice and Health Care: Fact or Fallacy

  • Ingrid Whiteman

Student thesis: Phd


Choice and Health Care: Fact or FallacyThis thesis sets out to examine the place of patient choice in English health care, primarily within the National Health Service and in relationship to English law with regard to (a) informed consents and information and risk disclosure, and (b) confidentiality and privacy in relation to the access to and management of patient information. The analysis in underpinned with a limited review of the associations between choice and respect for individual autonomy. Health policy rhetoric has been laden with references to pro-patient choice in recent years and yet this research re-affirms that in law (still) it is the negative patient choice that carries weight in matters of consent to treatment. There is (still) no place for real demand. Similarly, in individual medical information access and management there is no sanction for demand, even negative patient choice is bounded. In both aspects of health care the 'choices' are (rightly) limited and can hardly constitute choice as the consumer-patient might see it. What the three papers contribute is the recognition that restrictions in patient choice are necessary; to be supported and for some individuals should be even more fettered than that of the general public in the interest of that general public. The papers examine the language of choice and find it lacking in transparency, with the reality dissociated from patient engagement, information dissemination and shared decision making; so compromising trust. If the health care system is to genuinely respect the individual autonomy of the capable adult and not utilise choice language as covert method of policy implementation, the language of what is on offer and why, the reasons for information acquisition and use and why, needs to be part of the patient-practitioner discussion as well as clarified in policy.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMargaret Brazier (Supervisor) & Rebecca Bennett (Supervisor)


  • Autonomy
  • Policy
  • Ethics
  • Health Care
  • Choice
  • Law

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