Patient and public

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Patient choice

The choices available to you will depend on which country you live in. Due to differences in how the NHS is structured, some measures are more relevant to England than other parts of the UK.


What is patient choice?

The NHS gives patients the rights to make choices about different aspects of the care they receive, from which GP or hospital best meets your needs, to the different treatment options available to you.

The NHS website has information on the choices available to you on. You can also read the NHS Choice Framework, which explains patients' legal rights in terms of choice.

Where patients don't have a legal right to choose an aspect of their care, the framework details what choices may still be available to you, depending on what's available locally.

Visit the NHS website

Read the NHS Choice Framework


What do my choices include?

Which GP you register with

You can choose which GP practice you register with, as long as you live within a practice's catchment area and they have room to take you on as a patient.

Find out more about choosing a GP practice


Choice of GP practice scheme

You can register with a practice that is convenient to you, for example near your workplace, so long as the practice is taking part in the GP practice scheme, which launched in 2014.

If you do join a practice near work and you fall ill at home, the GP near your work is under no obligation to carry out home visits like a GP in your local area would be. For those patients who register out-of-area, NHS England is now responsible for organising home visits.

Find out more about the choice of GP practice scheme on the NHS website

Read the BMA's position on the choice of practice scheme


Treatments available to you

You can be involved in decisions about your treatment and you can discuss the different treatment options with your doctor or healthcare team.

Find out more about your role in treatment decisions


With regard to hospital care, the following choices are only available to patients in England:

Which hospital to have your treatment in

The NHS e-Referral Service is an electronic booking system that allows you to choose which hospital you're referred to by your GP. You can choose a hospital based on what is important to you, for example your preferred location, time and date or waiting times. You can find your nearest hospital using the 'Services near you' search tool on the NHS website.

Find out more about the e-Referral Service


The consultant in charge of your outpatient treatment

You can choose which consultant you see and you will be seen by that consultant or by a doctor who works in the consultant's team.

Find out more about choosing a consultant


If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, the choices available to you will be different for your hospital care. Your doctor or local healthcare organisation can advise you further on your choices.


Any Qualified Provider (AQP)

Introduced by the government in 2012 to expand the involvement of new ‘providers’ in the NHS, including into community and mental health services.  All local commissioning areas in England initially had to implement AQP into at least three types of service, such as podiatry or community eye care.

This means that when you are referred, usually by your GP, for one of these services, you should be able to choose from a list of qualified providers who meet NHS standards and costs. From April 2013, it became the responsibility of clinical commissioning groups to decide if and how to apply AQP.


Finding healthcare services

The NHS website for your country has information on where you can find health services near you:

Find services in:


Other tools and resources to help you make choices

Lifestyle choices

The NHS website tools library has interactive tools, quizzes and other resources that aim to help you make healthy lifestyle choices.

Browse healthy lifestyle resources on the NHS website


Information on conditions

Healthtalkonline lets you share in people's experiences of more than 60 health-related conditions. You can find reliable information about specific conditions, treatment choices and support.

Visit Healthtalkonline for more information


Looking for a specialist

The BMA has information on finding a specialist, which includes how to request a second opinion and finding a private specialist.

Find out more about finding a specialist