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Did you know that in many cases you have the legal right to choose where you have your NHS treatment? The NHS is offering more and more options to enable you to make choices that best suit your circumstances, giving you greater control of your care – and hopefully better results.

You can view what choices are currently available to NHS patients in the NHS Choice Framework. Here you'll also find information about when you can't choose – for example, if you need emergency care or you're a member of the armed forces. Make sure you know which options apply to you.

If your GP needs to refer you for a physical or mental health condition, in most cases you have the legal right to choose the hospital or service you'd like to go to.  This will include many private hospitals as long as they provide services to the NHS and it doesn't cost the NHS any more than a referral to a traditional NHS hospital.

You can also choose a clinical team led by a consultant or named healthcare professional, as long as that team provides the treatment you require. Find out more about choosing a hospital or consultant and choosing a mental health service.

You can book your appointment via the NHS e-Referral service. It can be done while you're at the GP surgery, or online, using the shortlist of hospitals or services provided in your appointment request letter. The shortlist is selected by your GP, so make sure you tell them about your preferences during the appointment

To inform your selection you can use Services near you to help you make an informed decision before booking. You have the legal right to ask for your appointment to be moved to a different provider if you're likely to wait longer than the maximum waiting time specified for your treatment.

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NHS Data

There are nine minimum standards we must adhere to:

  1. Publicising and promoting patients’ legal rights to choice Legal requirement
  2. Making service information available through NHS e-Referral Service and NHS Choices
  3. Reviewing referral, activity and choice trends
  4. Considering broadening the choice offer where patients will benefit
  5. Ensuring that, for any services where patients have legal rights to choice, any provider of these services that meets the relevant criteria is made available for patients to choose from
  6. Ensuring that patients are offered a choice of provider and team for a first appointment upon referral to an elective service
  7. Using NHS e-Referral Service
  8. Acceptance of all clinically appropriate referrals
  9. Where notified that a patient will not be treated within maximum waiting times, commissioners must ensure that the patient is offered an appointment with a suitable alternative provider(s).

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A - Z of health conditions

NHS Data

What can I do if I'm not offered a choice?

You should always be offered a choice at the point of referral and have the opportunity to discuss the options with the person referring you.

If you feel you haven't been offered a choice, you should speak to the person who is referring you in the first instance, usually your GP or hospital clinician. 

If you still feel that you haven't been offered a choice, you could raise your concerns with the Clinical Commissioning Group as we must ensure patients are given choices.

Please contact the CCGs’ Patient Support Team on 01274 237562 or email

You can also the patient support page on our website which provides further information about raising concerns or making a complaint if you wish.