For some services, the NHS is required by law to offer you a choice, known as 'legal right to choice'. You currently have a legal right to:
- choose which hospital or clinic to go to for your outpatient appointments
- choose which consultant-led team will be in charge of your treatment, as long as that team provides the treatment you require.
See the section choosing a hospital for more information
- choose which mental health provider and team you're referred to by your GP for your outpatient appointments. See the section how to access mental health services for more information.
Download the NHS Choice Framework from the GOV.UK website for more detailed information.
How do I book or cancel an appointment?
Once you have decided on a hospital, you can book your first outpatient appointment through the NHS e-Referral Service. This service lets you choose a date and time for your appointment that is convenient for you.
To book your appointment select one of the following options:
- book with your GP while you are at the surgery
- book online using the details provided in your Appointment Request letter
- book via phone by calling the NHS e-Referral Service line on
0345 60 88 88 8 (open Monday-Friday, 8am to 8pm and on weekends and bank holidays 8am to 4pm)
Download the patient guidance to booking your appointment online (PDF, 5Mb).
Information about online and phone bookings
If you decide to book online or by phone then you will be given an appointment request letter, which will include your unique booking reference number and password, in addition to your NHS Number and a list of hospitals or clinics to choose from.
You will need these details when making or cancelling a booking online or via the Appointments Line 0345 6088888.
If you do not receive an appointment request letter, you will need to contact the healthcare provider who made your referral. Also see the box below' Why have I not received a confirmation letter?'
Most healthcare providers allow you to book your appointment through NHS e-Referral Service. Where this is not possible, the Appointment Request letter shows a picture of a phone next to the relevant provider. You will then have to book directly with the hospital or service.
Contact NHS e-Referral Service
If you need further assistance or wish to raise any concerns, you can contact NHS e-Referral Service:
- via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- via The Appointments Line (TAL) Customer Services line on 01908 774 663 (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm, excluding bank holidays)
Why have I not received a confirmation letter?
Not all healthcare providers choose to send out confirmation letters. If you do not receive a letter, you can print your appointment details directly from NHS e-Referral Service.
If you are worried about your appointment booking, or cannot print your appointment details you can contact the healthcare provider directly to make sure they have a record of your appointment. You can find contact details for the hospital on this website. The associated Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) may also be able to assist.
Alternatively, you can contact The Appointments Line on 0345 6088888 who may be able to look into your appointment details for you.