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NHS Kernow’s website closed on 30 June 2022. Visit the NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board website for information about our health and care services.

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 or are:

  • serving in the armed forces
  • accessing maternity services
  • detained under the Mental Health Act
  • detained in or on temporary release from prison, in court, an immigration removal centre or a secure children’s home
  • 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.

Referral management services

Across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly we have 2 referral management centres. They 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 or hospital.

You have the legal right to ask for your appointment to be moved to a different provider if you are likely to wait longer than the maximum waiting time specified for your treatment. To request this you should contact your current hospital or 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.

Leaflets, policies and resources

GP resources

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