Patient choice is a key area of the NHS Five Year Forward View. We have a duty to help you to make the right choice of where you go for you care/treatment.
Although the legal right to choice doesn’t apply to all health care services, even when you don’t have the legal right to choice, you should still be offered some choice depending upon what’s available locally.
Your GP will have a discussion with you about what care/treatment you may need, and where you can then go (in the majority of cases) for that treatment.
What choices do you have?
When making a choice about where you go for treatment, you'll often discuss the options with your doctor or another healthcare professional.
If you need to go to hospital to see a specialist, you have the right to choose which hospital you're referred to by your GP. This legal right lets you choose from any hospital offering a suitable treatment that meets NHS standards and costs.
You also have the right to request which consultant and team will be in charge of your treatment for your first appointment at the hospital.
The hospital you choose for your first appointment is likely to be the same place you'll receive treatment, should you need it. You should therefore think about any treatment that could follow on from your initial appointment, and where you would like that to be carried out, when you make your choice.
There are some healthcare services where you cannot make choices, such as cancer services, maternity, and specialist services.
Websites to help you make a choice
There are a number of websites that can help you to find out more about places where you could be treated, helping you to make a decision on where to be referred:
the national NHS website holds a lot of information to help you make choices, including directories of NHS services across England and patient feedback and comments on services across the country.
an independent website that shares patients' experiences of health services across the country. Read what others have said about services you are considering.
NHS Choice Framework
This updated framework provides information about patients’ right to choice in the NHS.
Guidance published on patients’ choice in mental healthcare
NHS England has published guidance for commissioners, GPs and providers to help them support you to choose your mental health care. If you have a mental health condition, you have the same right to choose where you have your first outpatient appointment. You are able to choose any clinically appropriate provider in England as long as we (CCG) or NHS England has a contract with them.
For more information, please click here.