Patient choice is at the heart of the NHS. There are a range of choices that patients can expect to be offered in the NHS services they use.
If your GP needs to refer you to a hospital see a specialist or to give birth, you have the right to choose which hospital you want to go to. This legal right, which was introduced in April 2009, lets you choose from any hospital offering a suitable treatment that meets NHS standards and costs.
You can choose a hospital according to what matters most to you, whether that be location, waiting times, reputation, clinical performance, visiting policies, parking facilities or patients’ comments.
A choice of hospital is available for most patients and in most circumstances. Exceptions include emergency and urgent services, cancer, maternity and mental health services. If you need to be seen urgently by a specialist (for example, if you have severe chest pain), your GP will send you where you’ll be seen most quickly.
There are many reasons why you might prefer one hospital to another. Location, waiting times, clinical results and parking facilities are just some of the things that patients consider when choosing a hospital. Evidence shows that if you choose a hospital in which 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 don’t have to make the decision yourself. If you prefer, your GP can choose for you.
If your GP wants to refer you to a specialist, you can take away information about hospitals and decide later. In most circumstances, this is the most sensible option.
The hospitals you can choose from will depend on the type of specialist you need to see. The choice you make may be based on a wide range of factors, such as location, waiting times, reputation, clinical performance, cleanliness, travel, parking facilities and visiting policies. You can choose your hospital according to what’s most important to you.
For detailed advice on researching hospitals and how to choose the best hospital for you, go to Picking the right hospital.
The CCG is committed to promoting patient choice. To learn more, see the NHS Choice Framework published by the Department of Health.
A leaflet on patient choice is also available to download here.