If your GP decides that you need to see a specialist in a hospital for further advice you can choose where and when you would like to go.
When you have needed to go to hospital for treatment in the past your doctor will have automatically referred you to your nearest hospital. Now you have the power to decide where you want to go. Your GP will explain which local hospitals or health centres provide the care you need and you can then make your choice using a system called 'Choose and Book'.
Going to hospital isn't nice for anybody, but by choosing the hospital you are most comfortable and confident with, at least you don't have to be worried about receiving the best possible care for your needs. If you are happy with the hospital you usually visit, you can still go there.
Choice is easy to make
Your GP has access to information about the different hospitals available to you so you can discuss the options and make the decision together. Your GP can use the electronic booking system called 'Choose and Book' at the surgery, which allows you to book an appointment at the best time and place for you. If you are not ready to book the appointment straight away, your GP will give you a password and reference number, so you can make the appointment in your own time, either online or via the Appointment Line.
If you want to research the different hospitals you could go to, visit the NHS Choices website, www.nhs.uk. Here you will be able to enter your postcode and compare NHS and private hospitals available to you in your area. It will give you information on services offered, infection rates, parking available and travel networks. If you wish you can choose to go to any hospital in the country where your care is funded by the NHS, including many private hospitals.
If you feel as though you need more advice before you book your appointment, either speak to your GP again, or call the advice line on 08456 088 888. They can help you to choose your hospital and book your appointment over the phone.
What to consider when choosing a hospital
As a patient, there are a number of things you might want to consider when deciding which hospital is right for you. These include:
- Your own personal experience of a particular hospital
- The location - whether it is easy to get to or close to work, family or friends
- Reputation - what do other patients have to say
- Hygiene standards and infection rates
- Waiting times
- Good parking and disabled facilities.
Does choice apply to all services?
There are some services where choice cannot be offered, either because they are too specialist or need to provide treatment quickly. These include:
- Emergency attendances or admissions
- Patients attending a Rapid Chest Pain Clinic
- Patients attending cancer services
- Maternity services (limited choice)
- Mental health.
Visit the NHS Choose and Book website for more information.