You have the right to choose the organisation that provides your NHS care when you are referred for your first outpatient appointment with a service led by a consultant.
Source: NHS Constitution Handbook
The NHS Constitution: Your right to choice
Research has shown that patients want to be more involved in making decisions and choosing their healthcare. Most of the patients who are offered a choice of hospital view the experience as positive and valuable. NHS and Kings Fund surveys in 2010 showed that only around 50% of patients attending their GP are aware they have a constitutional right to choice of which consultant led team they can see for their first outpatient appointment. There is little evidence that this has changed. We all have the legal right to choice as defined within the NHS Constitution – but many don’t know this or are too polite to ask.
Why should I care?
You may be missing out on seeing the consultant that your friend or family member recommended to you, or the opportunity to get an appointment at a time and place more suited to you. This can be anywhere in England that holds an NHS contract for the service you require. You can be seen by consultants who work for traditional NHS hospitals, private hospitals or quite often a combination of both. Either way, it only costs the NHS the same amount of money wherever you are treated. Anyone living in the UK and entitled to NHS care can choose which organisation they have their first outpatient appointment with and any subsequently required procedure*. You can also pick and choose the date and time.
How do I exercise this choice?
If your doctor decides that you need to be referred to see a specialist consultant, ask them what your options are. Tell the GP what is important to you, such as preferred location, the name of a consultant or date. You will then agree your options.
The appointments are then often booked through a system called Choose & Book, (or e-Referral Service as it will soon be re-launched as). Click here to go to the next page and see how we use the system in our practice.
* There are some exceptions. See the NHS constitution handbook for these.
Choose & Book (soon to be re-launched as e-Referrals)
Choose and Book is a service that lets you choose your hospital or clinic and book your first NHS appointment.
As described within the Patient Choice page, there are two ways in which appointment bookings are normally made in our practice.
At our surgery you will then either:
1 – Make the booking whilst in the surgery (the GP may pass you on to a member of staff who will help you with this). They will also give you a Unique Booking Reference Number (UBRN) and password or,
2 – The surgery will post out to you a Unique Booking Reference Number (UBRN), password and a printed list of the ‘clinically appropriate’ choices that meet your requirements. You can then at your leisure either:
a)research yourself the options provided and then book or amend an appointment on line, much as you would do when booking a hotel! Or, ● b)ring the NHS The Appointment Line (TAL) and they will help you make your Choice with reference to the details on the Choose & Book system and those details available on the NHS Choices website. They will offer to book or amend your appointment for you using your UBRN.
Find out more about Choose and Book by selecting from the following links below that will take you to the Choose & Book or NHS Choices website. The NHS Choices website is a website dedicated to ‘Helping put you in charge of your healthcare’.
Book your appointment
Book, change or cancel your appointment online now. Alternatively you can book by calling The Appointments Line on 0345 60 88888. This is open every day of the year except Christmas day
Choosing your hospital
For our patients, the local choices, depending on the condition being assessed or treated, are, Chesterfield Royal Hospital,Chatsworth Suite Clinic,* Sheffield Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield Northern General Hospital, BMI Sheffield Thornbury Hospital*, Sheffield Claremont Hospital, * and Barlborough NHS Treatment Centre*
* Several organisations provide NHS services from these sites.
Help using Choose & Book
Instructions on how to use the online booking system in the form of a set of pdf slides viewed via your browser.
Frequently Asked Questions
A search facility within the NHS Choices website that assists in finding out about Hospital and consultant performance, waiting times and locations.
You can also learn more about your condition, treatments and ways to help yourself Click Here.