Patient Choice

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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 choose which consultant-led team, or clinically appropriate team led by a named healthcare professional, will be in charge of your treatment for your first appointment at the hospital. You will be seen by the consultant or by a doctor who works with the consultant in their team. There are some healthcare services where you cannot make choices and these can be explained by your GP.

The hospital you choose for your first outpatient appointment is most likely the same place you'll receive treatment, should you need it. Evidence shows that if you choose a hospital where you feel comfortable and confident, you're likely to improve both the result of your treatment and your experience while you're in hospital.

You should therefore think about any treatment that could follow on when your GP refers you. For example, if you expect to be prescribed a simple course of medication, your choice of hospital may be based largely on convenience, such as how far away the hospital is, waiting times and parking facilities. See information on NHS waiting times >>

If you're likely to need an operation, such as a hip replacement, your choice will probably be based on other factors. Clinical ratings such as infection and mortality rates may be more important, especially if results vary significantly between hospitals. You should choose your hospital according to what's most important to you. Choosing the hospital that's best for you is a personal decision. Discuss your choice with your GP before they refer you to a specialist. If you don't wish to make a decision there and then, you can take away information about hospitals and decide later.

The NHS Choice Framework

This framework sets out some of the choices available to you in the NHS.

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NHS Constitution for England

The NHS belongs to the people. The Constitution sets out rights for patients, public and staff.

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Rights to choice in mental health

Legal rights to choice have been introduced in mental health.

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Choose services near you

Do you know what choices are available to you on the NHS? See what the NHS offers...

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Patient Choice myth buster

What do you know about patient choice? Take this quiz to find out about your choices.

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Resources and materials

Materials and resources to help CCGs and GPs to encourage patient choice.

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