Media Briefings

NHS Hip Replacement Patients Actively Choosing Where to be Treated

  • Published Date: May 2012

Many patients are actively exercising their right to choose where to receive NHS-funded care, according to research by Kate Collyer and colleagues, published in the May 2012 issue of the Economic Journal.

The study analyses data on the choices made by more than 50,000 NHS patients in need of hip replacement operations. It finds that nearly four out of every ten patients choose not to receive treatment at their nearest hospital and instead travel to a hospital further away.

The authors suggest that patients opting to travel for treatment are more likely to choose a hospital if it provides higher quality care. Patients prefer hospitals with shorter waiting times, lower hospital acquired infection rates and lower overall mortality rates.

Recent survey evidence has shown that patients value the idea of choice, but this research goes one step further, using data on actual patient behaviour to conclude that many NHS patients are now using the options provided to them through the offer of choice to seek treatment on the basis of quality rather than simple convenience.


Notes for editors: ‘Choice of NHS-funded Hospital Services in England’ by Walter Beckert, Mette Christensen and Kate Collyer is published in the May 2012 issue of the Economic Journal.

Walter Beckert is at Birkbeck College, University of London. Mette Christensen is economic adviser at the Co-operation and Competition Panel. Kate Collyer is deputy director and economics director at the Co-operation and Competition Panel.

The views expressed in the paper are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Co-operation and Competition Panel.

For further information: contact Kate Collyer via email:; or Romesh Vaitilingam on +44-7768-661095 (email:

Media Coverage

The Telegraph NHS patients 'do want to choose their hospital'

Pulse Patient choice ‘has changed GP referrals’