A radical new report claims NHS patients should be a given a personal budget to pay for their healthcare directly.
The paper, by the Health Services Management Centre, suggests patients should be allowed to take control of their treatment by purchasing the services they need with individual budgets.
Researchers from the University of Birmingham claim the system will provide similar freedoms to people who use the Direct Payment scheme currently operated for social care.
This scheme was established in the late 1990s allowing people to buy their own services and hire their own staff, and despite fears over how the money would be spent, the system has proved popular with users.
Lead author Dr Jon Glasby said: "A system of direct payments is not about privatising health services, it is about citizenship and the right to be in control of your life.
"At present, people with more money can afford to supplement or bypass public health services.
"Creating a system of direct payments would offer similar opportunities to everyone.
"Under these plans health services would continue to be free, the idea is to give patients greater control over how they want to manage their health."