Your care, your choice – it’s empowering to be in control

Want to be in charge when it comes to deciding where to have your NHS specialist treatment? With Patient Choice, you can decide what’s best for YOU.


by that-life |
Updated on

When you’re waiting for hospital treatment, it can feel stressful and overwhelming. But one way you may feel more confident about your care is by having more control over it. This is why Patient Choice is so important.
In England, if you are referred for hospital treatment, in most cases you can choose which hospital your GP or healthcare professional refers you to. Although, Patient Choice isn’t new, some people don’t know that they have right to choose where they receive treatment.


What’s Patient Choice?

If your GP or other healthcare professional suggests you need to see a specialist, you usually have the right to decide where you would like to be treated— either at an NHS hospital or independent sector hospital if they provide services to the NHS, at no cost to you.
It’s all about making a choice based on what is most important to you. This gives you, and your loved ones, greater control and it also helps ensure the NHS’s resources and capacity are used as effectively as possible.

‘Waiting times and location are KEY for my patients’ Dr Natalie Rout, a GP based in Camden, London, says: ‘I don’t think people are aware of Patient Choice, so they are surprised and happy when I tell them they are able to choose where they receive treatment. Some of my more elderly patients only want to be treated at their nearby hospital, but for the majority of my patients, waiting times and locations are key in the decision-making process. I think they want to be able to say, “I have made an informed decision about where I went.” They find the choice empowering and generally know what is best for them, what works best with their schedules and they like the flexibility. I think having a choice is giving more patient satisfaction.’


Patient Choice the benefits

With Patient Choice, you can prioritise the things that matter most to you. Maybe you’d prefer to undergo treatment or recover at a hospital that’s closer to friends or family, so that they can support you. It may be that transport is an issue, so you need to be close to home or be treated somewhere that is easy to access via public transport or has good parking.
It may be the case that your local hospital has long waiting times, so you want to go somewhere you can be seen sooner.
You can ask your GP practice for options, and you can look up waiting times and distance on the My Planned Care website (, where you’ll be able to search by region and speciality.

Three easy steps

  1. You discuss your health concerns with your GP or other healthcare professional who suggests you need a hospital referral to see a specialist.

  2. Ask your GP where you could go. They will then work with you to create a list of options based on your preferences.

  3. You choose the hospital which best meets your needs then and there and a referral is made. Or if you need more time, the list of hospitals can be made available to you. You can then make your choice later on the NHS App, online or by calling the National Referral Helpline.


So next time you need to see a specialist, remember that you have the right to decide where you go, based on what is best for you.
To find out more about your choices in the NHS, visit

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