A new bill to be passed by parliament will allow patients and general practitioners (GPs) access to the success rates of individual National Health Service (NHS) doctors.
After discussions with their GP, patients will be able to choose which hospital they are treated in, and hospitals with the highest demand will be rewarded with extra funds to pay for expansion.
The proposals are part of the government’s plan to reduce the maximum waiting time for operations to six months by 2004.
Health secretary Alan Milburn said he understood the plans could be seen as a compromise of the original ideals of the NHS by some Labour party members.
But he said the plans were necessary to help people on waiting lists be seen more quickly.
Milburn has also proposed the building of 29 fast-track centres to beat waiting lists and double the number of NHS patients treated in private hospitals by next year.
Shadow health secretary Liam Fox said this is a reinvention of Margaret Thatcher’s plan for the NHS in the 1980s.