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Patient Choice: What is most important to you?

If your GP refers you to a specialist, you usually have the right to choose which hospital you go to.

You can choose a hospital in your area – or one further away if you prefer. You might be able to choose an independent hospital if it provides services for the NHS.

You have the right to choose your hospital, but you can ask your GP for help deciding if you prefer.

Patient Choice information is also available as an easy-read guide.

The benefits of choice

You can make your decision based on what is most important to you, such as:

  • Waiting times – can a hospital further away see you sooner?
  • Convenience – is there a hospital near your home or work?
  • Near family or friends – might you need support after your treatment, and having people close would help?
  • Recommendations – do you have personal experience with a certain hospital, or has one been recommended to you?

How Patient Choice works

Step 1:
You see your GP about a physical or mental health issue. They suggest you see a specialist and find available options.

Step 2:
Together, you can make a list of choices based on what is important to you and your health. Your GP practice can refer you immediately if you know what you want to do. Or, if you want time to think, you can make a choice later online or by phone.

Step 3:
You can make your choice by:

Step 4:
Your chosen hospital can contact you directly with an appointment if they aren’t currently available online.

Remember, you might need to attend several appointments, so keep that in mind when choosing.

Help if you are not offered choice

Assuming none of the above situations apply, you have a legal right to choose where you receive your healthcare.

If you feel you are not being offered the choices you are entitled to, you should speak to your GP.

If you want to complain about the options available to you, you can do so to the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB).

ICBs are regional NHS organisations responsible for commissioning services for patients in their area.

Other organisations that may be able to help you are:

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