If you are referred for specialist treatment by your GP, you can choose to receive that treatment at any hospital in England, including many independent (private) hospitals which have contracts to treat NHS patients.
You can still decide to go to your local hospital if you wish, but this new system of 'patient choice' - introduced in April 2008 - allows you to be treated at a time and place which is convenient for you.
How choice works
Your GP has access to information about the different hospitals available to you so you can discuss the options and decide together. You may then be able to book your appointment before you leave the surgery.
If you want some time to consider where you would like to be treated, your GP can give you a unique password and reference number which may allow you to book your own appointment online or by telephone.
There is lots of information available to help you make a choice that reflects what is most important to you. For example, you might like to consider:
how close the hospital is to where you live or work?
if it has special expertise in a particular treatment?
if it has have good disabled access?
Not all services are covered
It is important to note that choice of hospital may not be appropriate for all services, for example, for emergency treatment – your GP will be able to advise you.
For further information please talk to staff at your GP practice, visit your local library, or see the NHS Choices website.
You can also compare information about hospitals online on the NHS Choices website.