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Mark Exworthy and Stephen Peckham

Many health systems are implementing policies to encourage patient ‘choice’ as part of strategies for personalization of services and greater competition and market-based approaches. These are justified on the basis that patients themselves are increasingly able and willing to travel further for health-care services, including to other countries. Some have seen such patient travel as the lucrative growth of a new market. With several years’ experience of choice, competition policies and patient travel, it is timely to reassess the assumptions underlying these developments. In this chapter, we appraise the socio-economic and policy context which has spawned the apparent growth of patient travel and review the extant evidence of patients’ willingness to travel (WTT) as it relates to the UK health-care system. We draw conclusions about the consequences (intended and otherwise) of this policy direction for patients, providers, regulators and payers.