Patients as Health Care Consumers

Like a consumer who makes decisions on whether to buy a commodity or not in a given store, so is a health care consumer who can be influenced by advertisements and marketing. Health care consumers include patients in any hospital setting, a client in a mental health centre within any given community, or it can also be any person who is a member to any organization providing prepaid health care services and maintain (Ryan et al 2009:78). At any given time that a person decides to visit a health facility for any kind of health or medical attention, she or he makes the decision of doing so as a health care consumer. Through health care consumerism, the conservative government is deemed to have introduced monetary structures of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) and Community Care Act both of which had their aims inclined to increasing competition as well as shift in NHS’ culture. This was in regard to concerns of minding patients as health care consumers and it involved shift from a culture that was established through decisions and preferences to a culture that was determined by health care users’ wishes and views. … e government introduced overall management in NHS in the year 1983 at various levels of service so as to research on the needs of patients alongside their views regarding quality of health care. Following these and other essential considerations, consumer driven health care has been on the rise based on the need to get health care consumers satisfied being that they form the basis of health care industry by purchasing health care services and products (Natalier and Willis 2008:407). This paper attempts to look into issues regarding the view that patients are consumers of health care services. Mechanisms for Consumerism in Health Care There are some mechanisms for consumerism in health care which have continually been exhibited in as much as health care consumerism has been embraced. One of the mechanisms is Patient Charter which is actually a document of the United Kingdom’s government with a layout of rights for NHS patients. This charter has been into force since its inception in the year 1992 through Conservative government but had been revised in the years 1995 and 1997. According to Adeoye and Bozic (2007:97), the charter sets out rights in service areas includinggeneral practice, hospital treatment, community treatment, ambulance, dental, optical, pharmaceutical and maternity. However, various stakeholders have criticized the charter for reasons widely ranging from not offering sufficient support to trans-gender patientsto increasing attacks on hospital staff. Amid the issues, the charter has been meant to be legally binding as far as health care consumerism is concerned. Another mechanism for health care consumerism is Choose and Book approach which has been applied since the year 2005. This is an electronic booking software system cum application