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Patient choice

South Devon and Torbay CCG believes patient choice is an important aspect of healthcare and should underpin the delivery of a patient-centred health service.

If your GP refers you to hospital to see a specialist, you have the right, in most cases, to choose to go to any hospital in England. This includes many private and independent hospitals that are contracted to provide care on behalf of the NHS. This legal right allows patients to choose from any hospital provider in England offering a suitable treatment that meets NHS standards and costs.

If you need any treatment or additional appointments you will usually need to return to your chosen hospital for this.

Is hospital choice offered in every case?
A choice of hospital is available for most patients and in most circumstances. Exceptions include emergency, urgent and cancer services. If you need to be seen urgently by a specialist (for example, if you have severe chest pain), your GP will send you where you’ll be seen most quickly.

If you are taken by emergency ambulance, you will not have the choice of which hospital you go to do. This will depend on which is the nearest appropriate hospital for you to receive the treatment you need.

Why should I choose which hospital to go to?
You can choose where you receive treatment, according to what matters most to you – whether it's location, waiting times, reputation, clinical performance, visiting policies, parking facilities or other patients' comments.

Evidence shows that if you choose a hospital that you feel comfortable and confident in, you’re likely to improve both the result of your treatment and your experience of the hospital.

What if I don’t want to choose?
You don’t have to make a decision yourself. Your GP can choose for you or discuss with you if that is what you would prefer.

Do I have to choose immediately?
If your GP wants to refer you to a specialist, you can take away information about hospitals and decide later.

Where can I find information to help choose a hospital?
The Find and Choose Hospitals service at the NHS website allows you to compare hospitals on a wide range of factors, depending on what matters most to you, including: overall quality of service; waiting and visiting times; location; infection rates; parking facilities; and disabled access. The service also allows you to search according to the operations and treatments that hospitals offer.

Which hospital should I choose?
The hospitals you can choose from will depend upon the type of specialist you need to see. The choice you make may be based on a wide range of factors, such as location, waiting times, reputation, clinical performance, cleanliness, travel, parking facilities and visiting policies. You can choose your hospital according to what matters most to you.

Out-of-area referrals
The CCG recognises that sometimes referrals are made outside the area that are not subject to patient choice. To maximise convenience for patients and investment in local services, the CCG prefers and actively promotes local referrals wherever a clinically equivalent service exists, though patient choice will be respected. The full patient choice statement is here​.The process for patients wishing to seek alternative providers when the 18-week RTT target is likely to breach is here​.

Treatment in another European Economic Area country
Under the European Union Directive on patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare, patients are entitled to travel to a European Economic Area (EEA) country to purchase treatment.

If the treatment is medically necessary and the same as, or equivalent to, a service that they would be eligible to receive under the NHS, they can apply to their local CCG for prior approval. Reimbursement will not be authorised without prior approval. The Directive covers UK patients choosing to be treated in another EEA country. It does not cover patients in England choosing to access treatment in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Patients who wish to seek treatment in another EEA country should seek advice from their local CCG’s Individual Funding Panel: South Devon and Torbay CCG​ or NEW Devon CCG.

Further information
Click here to read more in​formation about booking your appointment.

In England, the NHS Constitution sets out your rights as an NHS patient. These rights cover how patients access health services, the quality of care you’ll receive, the treatments and programmes available to you, confidentiality, information and your right to complain if things go wrong.

If you need help using the internet, your local library is a good place to start. Many libraries have staff who are specially trained to assist you.

If you have any questions about the choices available to you, or you have any other questions or comments about your healthcare, our Patient Experience team can help. You can contact them on 0300 123 1672 or email at pals.devon@nhs.net. Alternatively, visit the Patient Experience section of our website here.​​​​​