Choosing a hospital or consultant
If you’re referred for your first outpatient appointment, in most cases you have the right to choose which hospital in England to go to.
This will include many private and NHS hospitals that provide services to the NHS.
You’re also able to choose which consultant-led team will be in charge of your treatment, as long as that team provides the treatment you require.
If you wish to be treated by a particular consultant for a procedure, you can choose to have your first outpatient appointment at the hospital where the consultant works and be treated by that consultant’s team.
But this does not necessarily mean you’ll be seen by the consultant themselves.
This choice is a legal right. If you’re not offered a choice at the point of referral, ask your doctor why and say that you wish to go through your options.
If you’re still not offered a choice or are refused, contact your local clincal commissioning group (CCG).
CCGs are NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commissioning of health care services for your local area.
Find your local CCG
If a GP wants to refer you for a service or treatment that they think is best for you but is not routinely offered by the NHS, the process is different.
The GP will have to submit an Individual Funding Request (IFR) to your CCG and provide details of where they want you to go.
CCGs will publish information about individual funding requests on their website.
You do not have a legal right to choice if:
- you need urgent or emergency treatment
- you’re serving in the armed forces
- you’re accessing maternity services
- you’re detained under the Mental Health Act
- you’re detained in or on temporary release from prison, in court, an immigration removal centre or a secure children’s home
- you’re referred to high-security psychiatric services or drug and alcohol misuse services provided by local authorities
Visit GOV.UK to read more about your legal rights to choice in the NHS.
How the NHS website can help you choose
On this site, you can compare different hospitals according to what matters most to you, such as waiting times, patient safety, complaints or quality of food.
Use the services near you search tool to find your nearest hospital.
You can also read what other patients have said about the hospital or leave your own feedback.
Simply select the “Leave review” option provided on each hospital profile to record your experiences about the treatment you received.
You can also find out how a consultant performs for a particular procedure or compare consultants from different hospitals before you make your choice for your first outpatient appointment.
Use our consultant search tool to try it out.
For some specialties, you’ll also be able to see how many times a consultant has performed a particular procedure, including quality measures such as complication rates, adverse events and mortality rates.
You’ll also be able to compare the information to other consultants for this particular specialty in England.