Patient choice banner

Patient choice

Your choice of NHS services

What can I choose? 

If your GP needs to refer you for a physical or mental health condition, in most cases you have a legal right to choose which hospital or service you go to. This includes NHS and many private hospitals that provide services to the NHS. You may also choose your clinical team led by a consultant or named healthcare professional.

GP surgeries tend to refer to local hospitals and services, however if you want to be referred somewhere else in the country or if you want your doctor to see if there is another hospital that can see you more quickly, ask your GP. If your GP thinks there is a clinical reason why you shouldn’t go somewhere else, they will tell you. 


Why should I choose where to have my treatment? 

People tell the NHS that they want to be more involved in making decisions and choosing their own healthcare. Most people say it is helpful to be able to choose where and when they access NHS services. Even if you don’t mind where you go, it is important to know that you have a choice. It may be that you want to go somewhere away from home but closer to your family. Or perhaps you want to start your treatment as quickly as possible. It’s entirely up to you to decide.


Why should I choose where to have my treatment? What can I choose?

There are a number of places where you can access information about hospitals and services:

  • You can ask your GP about what might be the best choice for you, once you tell them what matters to you most
  • You can compare information about hospitals, services and consultants at This website includes information about the quality of care, waiting times, parking and travel. Simply search using the ‘Services Near You’ option available at the top of page. You can also search according to the operations and treatments that the hospitals or services offer


Once I have made my choice, how do I book a hospital appointment?

You can book your appointment while you are at the surgery, via the NHS e-Referral service or over the phone. Use the shortlist of hospitals or services provided in your ‘Appointment Request’ letter. You’ll be given a password and reference number that allows you to book your appointment online or over the phone. The shortlist is selected by your GP so ensure that you tell your GP during the appointment about your preferences. 


Is choice available to everybody?

A choice of hospital or service is available to most patients and in most circumstances. There are some exceptions, for example, if you are a member of the armed forces or if you need to be seen urgently. You can find out more at 



To find out more about choosing your hospital or service visit or ask your GP.