29. Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will restore patients‘ rights to seek referral by their general practitioners for publicly funded treatment in any NHS hospital. 
Mr. Hutton: Previous arrangements only gave some general practitioners, not patients, choice over where patients were treated. We are committed to giving all patients choice, for the first time, over where and when they are treated. By 2005, all patients, together with their GPs, will be able to choose the date, time and place of their treatment.
Through the additional resources made available to the national health service each year, we are demonstrating our commitment by piloting patient choice from July 2002. Funding for the NHS announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer further demonstrates this commitment.
7 May 2002 col 97W