What choices are available to me in the NHS?
The government is committed to giving patients greater choice and control over how they receive their healthcare. For this reason the Department of Health has published an NHS Choice Framework which explains the choices available.
Some of the most common situations where patients may require greater choice and control are detailed below.
I am not happy with my current GP practice, can I register with a different surgery?
Yes. You can request to register with any surgery provided that they are accepting new patients, will accept patients living outside of its boundary and you have no clinical needs which would mean it is inappropriate for you to register with a GP practice outside the area where you live. If the surgery is not able to accept your request they must inform you of the reasons for this.
If you are having difficulty registering with a GP practice, you can discuss this with NHS England and if you remain unhappy, a formal complaint can be made.
I am being referred as an outpatient to see a specialist, can I choose which organisation deals with my referral?
Yes. If your referral is for a first appointment for a physical or mental health condition you may choose which organisation deals with your care provided they are deemed to be clinically appropriate to care for your condition and that they have been appointed by the NHS to provide that service.
This is a legal right but there are circumstances where you may not choose. You do not have legal rights to choose if you are already receiving care and treatment for the condition, you are a prisoner, you are detained in a secure hospital setting or if you are detained under the Mental Health Act 1983. In addition you do not have the legal right to choose if you are referred to a service commissioned by a local authority or if you are referred for suspected cancer.
If you are not offered these choices, you should speak to your GP, dentist, optometrist or other person who is referring you. If you still feel that you have not been offered choice, you may wish to complain to your local Clinical Commissioning Group.
I have been told I have to wait what seems like a very long time before starting treatment for my condition, can I ask to change hospital in order to be seen sooner?
Yes. If you have to wait more than 18 weeks before starting treatment for a physical or mental health condition, or if you have to wait more than 2 weeks before seeing a specialist for suspected cancer, your CCG must take all reasonable steps to ensure that you are offered an appointment at a suitable alternative organisation that can start your treatment earlier.
This is a legal right but there are circumstances in which you may not ask to be referred to a different hospital such as failing to attend appointments, deciding not to start the treatment, the services you are using are not consultant led etc.
As before, you are not offered these choices it is often helpful to speak to the organisation responsible in the first instance. If you feel that they have not reasonably resolved the situation you may wish to complain to your local CCG.
If you have been affected by medical negligence contact us on 0800 316 8892.