Is patient choice offered for all medical conditions?
A choice of hospital is available for most medical conditions. However, not all hospitals treat every medical condition and some patients may need a more specialist service.
What if I don't want to choose?
You do not have to make the decision yourself. If you prefer, your GP can still make the choice for you and recommend a hospital for your treatment.
What if I don't want to go to a different hospital?
You don't have to. If you would rather visit the hospital that you usually go to, you can make that choice.
Will I have to pay?
No, not as an NHS patient. All the hospitals listed provide services to NHS patients. As long as you choose one of the hospitals listed in the booklet, you won't have to pay.
Is there help available for my travel arrangements to get to hospital?
If your GP or the person who has referred you decides that you have a medical need for transport, patient transport services should be provided. You may also have your travel expenses paid through the Hospital Travel Costs Scheme if you get Jobseeker's Allowance, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit or Pension Credit, or qualify under the low-income scheme.
Where's best for me?
You might want to think about how you will get to hospital or who might pick you up when your treatment has finished. If you are going to be in hospital for a while, do you want to be close to family and friends?
You may also want to think about how quickly you want to be treated. Would you be willing to travel further away if it meant that you could be treated quicker?
Or you may have a different priority - hospital cleanliness or location, for example. The information in the booklet can help you make your choice based on the things that matter to you.
How do I book my appointment
However you are being referred, your GP or practice team will let you know what you need to do. Once you have left your GP practice, you can speak to your local support services for more help with choosing your hospital. Their contact details are on the back page of the booklet.
What is Choose and Book?
GPs may use a computer system to book your first outpatient appointment. This is called Choose and Book. This system gives you more control over when you book your appointment. Your GP or practice team can give you a leaflet called 'An introduction to Choose and Book for patients' that will give you more information.
If your GP is not yet using Choose and Book, he or she will send a letter to your choice of hospital and can also send you a copy. The hospital will then contact you to make an appointment.
What does the healthcare jargon mean?
Outpatient appointment - when you visit the hospital to see a specialist who will examine you so that he or she can diagnose what the problem is and think about what the best treatment will be.
Inpatient treatment is when you go into hospital to have your treatment and stay overnight.
Secondary care - this is when patients are referred by their GP for further treatment. It usually means being treated by a specialist in a hospital or a clinic.
Day surgery - where patients are treated and can go home on the same day.
Tertiary care - in some cases, patients may need to see a clinician with highly specialised knowledge of their condition.
NHS Foundation Trusts are a new type of NHS hospital that are run by local managers, staff and members of the public. These trusts have been given more freedom than other NHS trusts. However, they remain within the NHS.