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NHS Choice Framework

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If a 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 if they provide services to the NHS and it does not cost the NHS any more than a referral to a standard 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 here:

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 agree on the shortlist, you and your GP can compare information about hospitals or consultants on this website, including quality outcomes, waiting times, parking and travel. Use the services near you link to 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.

The hospital or integrated care board (ICB) will have to investigate and offer you a range of suitable alternative hospitals or clinics that would be able to see you sooner. 

What Can I Do if I’m Not Offered a Choice?

You should always be offered a choice at the point of referral and an opportunity to discuss the options with the person referring you. If you feel you have not been offered a choice, you should speak to the person who is referring you in the first instance.

If you still feel that you have not been offered a choice, you could complain to your ICB as they must ensure patients are given choices. Find out more about your local ICB.

If your local ICB is unable to resolve the complaint to your satisfaction, you're entitled to take your complaint to the independent Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Find out more about the NHS complaints procedure. You will also find guidance in section 13 of the NHS Choice Framework.

More Information:

National Organisation
Additional languages
Translation and/or Interpreting Available on Request
Age range
Suitable for ages from 0 to 100 years
Referral route
No Referral Needed
For people with
Suitable for Everyone
Eligibility criteria
Open to Everyone
Provider category
Universal Services - Suitable for Everyone


c/o NHS England, PO Box 16738
B97 9PT
United Kingdom


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Last updated 21 June 2024