About your choice

About your choice

If your GP sends you to see a specialist, you can choose to go to any hospital in England, including many private and independent hospitals. You can choose the hospital with the best reputation or shortest waiting times, or simply the one that is most convenient for you. This right is explained in the NHS Constitution.

This legal right was introduced in 2009 and lets you choose from any hospital offering a suitable treatment that meets NHS standards and costs. You may not be given a choice where speed is important, such as suspected stroke, heart attack or cancer.

Is hospital choice offered in every case?
A choice of hospital is available for most patients and in most circumstances. Exceptions include emergency, urgent and cancer 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.

Why should I choose which hospital to go to?
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 that you feel comfortable and confident in, you’re likely to improve both the result of your treatment and your experience of the hospital.

What if I don’t want to choose?
You don’t have to make a decision yourself. Your GP can choose for you if that is what you would prefer.

Do I have to choose immediately?
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.

Which hospital should I choose?
The hospitals you can choose from will depend upon 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 matters most to you.

Last modified: 

24 Mar 2016