Patient Choice

What is hospital Choice?

If you need to go to hospital to see a specialist, in most cases you now have the right to choose which hospital your GP refers you to. This right lets you choose from any hospital in England (including some independent hospitals), that offers suitable treatment at NHS standards and costs. You can choose a hospital based on whatever matters most to you — this could include your GP’s recommendation, quality of service, your previous experience, the opinions of other patients, or the location and waiting times of each hospital. If you want to find out more you can visit

Why should I choose which hospital to go to?

Most people say that 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 that you know you have a choice.

What if I don’t want to choose?

Don’t worry. You don’t have to make the decision yourself. If you prefer, your GP can choose for you.

Where can I find information to help choose a hospital?

The Find and Choose Hospitals service at allows you to compare hospitals on a wide range of factors, including:

- overall quality of servicewaiting timeslocation
- infection rates
- parking facilities, and
- disabled access

The service also allows you to search according to the operations and tretments that hospitals offer.

Do I have to choose straight away?

You do not need to choose straight away.  You can take away information about hospitals and decide in the next few days.

Once I’ve made my choice, how do I book a hospital appointment?

Your GP practice may book your hospital appointment for you. Otherwise they will give you information on how to book your hospital appointment yourself.  If your GP refers you through Choose and Book, you’ll be given a password and reference number that allow you to book your appointment online or over the phone.

Do I have to pay if I choose a hospital?

There are no costs involved if you’re an NHS patient. All the hospitals that you can choose from provide treatments to NHS patients free of charge, including the independent hospitals.

Is hospital choice available to everybody?

A choice of hospital is available to most patients and in most circumstances. Some exceptions include referral to mental health services or where you need to be seen urgently. You can find out more a

What else should I think about?

You will need to think about the things that matter to you when you make your choice.  And remember that you will probably have to return to the same hospital if you need any further appointments. Talk to your GP if you have any questions.

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

If you feel you are not offered a choice when you are referred to hospital, talk to your GP.  If you have any further questions about being offered a choice of hospital, contact your local Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) 0800 5873089.

More information?

To find out more about choosing your hospital, visit ask at your GP practice. You can compare hospitals by using the hospital comparison tool at

If you need help using the internet, your local library is a good place to start.  Many libraries have staff who are specially trained to assist you in using your local health service, including information about choosing hospitals. NHS111