Almost half of all patients are aware they have choice.

The percentage of patients aware they have choice has increased slightly from 47 per cent to 48 per cent, according to statistics released by the Department of Health from the September national patient choice survey.

The percentage of patients who could recall being offered a choice of hospital for their first outpatient appointment was 46 per cent in September 2008, the same percentage as in the July survey.

Of patients being offered choice, 67 per cent were able to go to the hospital they wanted - a slight increase on July. A further 23 per cent had no preference (the same number as in July) and 8 per cent were unable to go where they wanted, the same figure as in July.

The percentage of patients who were aware of choice and recalled being offered choice is 61 per cent, the same percentage as in July. A third of those not aware of choice could recall being offered it; this figure is slightly down on July's figure of 34 per cent.

Hospital cleanliness and low infection rates were selected most often (by 74 per cent of patients) as an important factor when choosing a hospital and 77 per cent of all patients were satisfied with how long they had to wait from the time their GP referred them to when they saw the hospital specialist.

To see the survey in full go to