NHS Choose and Book, also known as the NHS e-Referral Service, is an excellent initiative that allows patients to choose where they receive their specialist treatment.
If you are referred to a consultant, the scheme gives you the right to choose your preferred hospital or clinic. This includes all of the NHS hospitals in England, as well as some independent hospitals that receive NHS funding, for example Goring Hall Hospital. You can also choose your consultant, as well as the date and time of your first appointment.
NHS Choose and Book step-by-step
The following steps apply to patients within West Sussex who are suffering from a musculoskeletal condition, for example painful bones, muscle or joints.
- Before going to see your GP, you have the option to refer yourself to a physiotherapist for an NHS assessment and treatment. You don’t need a referral from your GP and you can contact your preferred physiotherapist directly to see if they provide NHS treatment.
- Following physiotherapy, if your condition has not improved, you should then make an appointment to see your GP.
- Your GP will review your condition and if necessary make a referral to the MSK (musculoskeletal) triage for an assessment with a senior physiotherapist.
- During this assessment, an extended scope physiotherapist (esp) will review your condition and determine the best course of action. If appropriate, they will refer you to an orthopaedic consultant for an assessment.
- At this stage, you can request your hospital/clinic and consultant from a list of suitable options. You may even be able to book your first appointment there and then.
- Alternatively, you can take some time to consider and research your options. You will be given everything you need to book your appointment from the comfort of home via telephone or the internet. Bookings can be made through the NHS’ Choose and Book website.
Choosing your hospital and consultant
When choosing your preferred hospital and/or consultant, here are some of the things you may want to consider:
- How far away/accessible is your chosen hospital?
- How soon can you be seen for a consultation?
- How long will you have to wait until you can start your treatment?
- Which hospital/consultant does your physiotherapist/GP recommend?
- Which hospital/consultant has the most experience of treating your condition?
- Reviews and feedback from other patients.
As well as looking at each hospital’s own website, you can also find useful information, including patient feedback by department, on the NHS Choices website. The National Joint Registry is another valuable resource, which can help you to assess your orthopaedic consultant’s experience.
Currently, the NHS Choose and Book service can only be used to book your first appointment. Nonetheless, it is a fantastic system that has helped to empower patients and improve the referral process.