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NHS Choices

Your options for treatment referral and how to choose

If a GP needs to refer you for a physical or mental health condition, in most cases you have the legal right to choose the hospital or service you'd like to go to.

This may include some private hospitals, if they provide services to the NHS, and it does not cost the NHS any more than a referral to a standard NHS hospital.

You can also choose a clinical team led by a consultant or named healthcare professional, as long as that team provides the treatment you require. Find out more about choosing a hospital or consultant and choosing a mental health service.


Before your GP makes a referral, use the NHS e-Referral service website to compare information about hospitals or consultants, including quality outcomes, waiting times, parking and travel. Use the services near you link to make an informed decision, and let the GP know where you'd like to go. 

Once the hospital or clinic has responded, you can monitor your appointment via the NHS e-Referral service.

You have the legal right to ask for your appointment to be moved to a different provider if you're likely to wait longer than the maximum waiting time specified for your treatment.

The hospital or integrated care board (ICB) will have to investigate and offer you a range of suitable alternative hospitals or clinics that would be able to see you sooner. Read the guide to waiting times for more information.