The July patient choice survey carried out by the Department of Health showed 46 per cent of patients recalled being offered a choice of hospital for their first outpatient appointment. This was up from 45 per cent in May.

Forty-seven per cent of patients were aware before visiting their GP that they had a choice of hospitals for their first appointment, also up from 45 per cent in May. Of patients who were aware of choice, 61 per cent (the same figure as in May) could recall being offered it. Overall, 68 per cent of patients were able to go to the hospital they wanted, with 23 per cent having no preference and 8 per cent being unable to go where they wanted.

Hospital cleanliness and infection rates were most often cited as important factors in choosing a hospital.

Provisional findings from the September survey suggest the number of patients recalling being offered a choice for their first outpatient appointment has remained at 46 per cent.