At first glance, an increase in patient choice seems to be unequivocally 'a good thing'.
But what trade-offs are really involved – and what price are we prepared to pay? And how far can individual freedoms be extended while retaining the essential objectives of the NHS?
This discussion paper sets out the questions that the government needs to answer if it wants to place patient choice at the heart of a health care system funded by tax-payers.
These include how extra costs will be met, whether patients are willing and able to exercise choice in their own best interests, and what kinds of limits to choice might be needed.