Patient choice

Did you know that in many cases you have the legal right to choose where you have your NHS treatment? The NHS is offering more and more options to enable you to make choices that best suit your circumstances, giving you greater control of your care – and hopefully better results.

If your 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 and independent sector providers as long as they provide services to the NHS and it doesn't cost the NHS any more than a referral to a traditional NHS hospital.

You do not have a legal right to choice if:

  • You need urgent or emergency treatment.
  • You are serving in the armed forces.
  • You are accessing maternity services.
  • You are detained under the Mental Health Act.
  • You are detained in or on temporary release from prison, in court, an immigration removal centre or a secure children's home.
  • You are referred to high-security psychiatric services, or drug and alcohol misuse services provided by local authorities.

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.

Across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly we have two referral management centres that will, once they have received the referral letter from your GP, go through the choices available to you for your clinical needs. Once you have made an informed decision they will book an appointment for you and/or forward your details to your chosen provider/hospital.

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. To request this you should contact your current hospital/provider. They will contact the referral management service who will investigate and offer you a range of suitable alternative hospitals or clinics that would be able to see you sooner.

Patient leaflets and resources

GP resources

Local policies