Your choice

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.

You can choose a hospital or service based on whatever matters most to you – this could include waiting times, quality of service, your previous experience, the opinions of other patients, the location or your GP’s recommendation.

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.

Do I have to choose straight away?

You do not need to choose straight away. You can take some time to consider the information and decide in the next few days, just tell your GP that you need more time and they will tell you what to do.

Where can I find information to help me 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

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

What can I do if I am not offered a choice of hospital?

If you feel you are not offered choice, talk to your GP. If you have any further questions search ‘The NHS Choice Framework’ at this outlines what to do if you are not offered choice.