The NHS is changing, to give you more choice about your healthcare. Choice gives you the ability to make positive changes to improve your health. But choice only works when you have the information you need to make the decision that’s right for you.
This website can help you make important health decisions, including which GP surgery you register with and which hospital you attend for treatment. It can also help you make decisions about how you exercise and the food you and your family eat.
These pages include information that’s relevant, clear and reliable, so that you can look at your options and make the right decision.
Tools to help you choose
All across NHS Choices there are resources to help you make choices. Take a look around and see for yourself.
When you're first referred to hospital by your GP you have the right to choose which hospital you go to. In most cases you can also choose the date and time of your appointment. On NHS Choices you can find hospitals that may be right for you and compare them.
Our hospital scorecards (accessed by searching for hospitals in your area) can tell you whether hospitals provide facilities such as car parking, disabled access, shops and a visitor canteen.
The scorecards also rate hospitals on important facts, including waiting times, MRSA infection rates and overall quality of service. On each hospital’s scorecard you can read the comments of others who have used the hospital and see what proportion of users who left a rating would recommend the hospital to a friend.
You can compare the performance of hospitals for specific operations or types of care. By entering the relevant condition and your postcode into our Find and choose services tool (right, and on many pages across the site), you’ll see how well different hospitals perform. The information available includes the average waiting time for the relevant department, how many times each year the hospital performs the treatment or procedure you're searching for and, where appropriate, the re-admission and survival rate.
GP surgery profile pages
In our service directory you’ll find detailed profile pages on all GP surgeries in England. Click on Find and choose services, select GPs and enter your postcode to find your local surgeries.
Our GP surgery pages will show you the opening hours of each practice. They also detail additional services available at each practice, such as asthma clinics, diabetes clinics, maternity services and others.
You’ll also be able to see statistics for each surgery on the quality of care offered and see statistical results from the GP Patient Survey on what patients think of it. You can also read the comments patients have made about their experience of the surgery and the care they've received there.
Our service directories also contain information on a range of NHS services, from accident and emergency (A&E) to dentists, pharmacies, maternity services, sexual health clinics, weight loss services and many others. Each service has a profile page that will tell you its location, opening hours, contact details and more.
Our dental profile pages will tell you the opening hours of local practices, whether they're currently accepting new NHS patients and the services they offer.
On our pharmacy pages you’ll find information about the services offered and opening times, including any late-night opening. Services can include pregnancy testing, weight management clinics, diabetes clinics and more.
Find and choose services is a valuable tool to help you find the NHS service you need.
Choose and Book
If you've been referred to a specialist by your GP via Choose and Book and you have an appointment reference number and a password, you can book, change or cancel your appointment online or by phone. The appointment number is 0345 608 8888 (open every day from 7am to 10pm). Please note that on November 1 2011 opening times will change to:
- Monday to Friday 8am - 8pm
- Weekends and bank holidays 8am - 4pm
- Christmas day closed
You can choose:
- which hospital or clinic you attend, and
- the date and time of your first appointment.
Choose and Book was launched in 2004 and will eventually be available to all patients in England. You can choose any hospital in England that is funded by the NHS. This includes NHS hospitals and some private hospitals.
When you and your GP agree that you need to see a hospital specialist, Choose and Book shows staff at your general practice the available hospitals and clinics. If you know where and when you’d like to be seen you may be able to book your appointment while at your GP surgery, or you can get the practice to shortlist appropriate hospitals.
You may want more time to consider your choice. If so, you can take an Appointment Request letter away and use a unique booking reference number to compare your shortlisted hospitals and book your appointment using the Choose and Book website.
The tools library
The NHS Choices tools library is packed full of interactive tools, quizzes and symptom checkers that can help you make better health choices.
There are tools that can help you choose a healthier diet and lifestyle. Our healthy weight calculator, for example, will tell you whether your body mass index falls into the healthy range and then provide you with personalised advice and information on how to maintain or achieve a healthy weight.
There is a 5 A DAY meal planner, which can help you choose healthier meals and compile your shopping list for you, including five portions of fruit and vegetables a day for you and all your family.
Our fitness widget sends daily tips to your desktop containing simple ideas on how to be more active. Our alcohol calculator provides you with the information you need to assess whether the amount you drink is having an impact on your health.
NHS Choices is full of videos and articles that can help you to choose a healthier lifestyle or understand more about your health condition and the choices you have when it comes to treating and living with it.
- Our Health A-Z is an encyclopaedia of health conditions, from abscess to yellow fever, containing information on the cause of the condition, symptoms, treatment and prevention. For many topics you can watch a video of an expert or patients talking about the condition.
- NHS Guides offer detailed information on a number of long-term health conditions, including asthma, diabetes and coronary heart disease. You’ll learn how to spot signs of the condition and find details of the treatment options available and the choices you can make to help manage your condition.
- Live Well contains a range of health and wellbeing information, advice and support in videos and written articles. Topics include healthy lifestyle areas such as weight loss, fitness, good food and stopping smoking. The child health sections can help parents make more informed decisions, and our age-specific pages advise you about the health choices relevant to your age group. Other areas give information on your choices if you live with a long-term condition such as asthma, diabetes or cancer.
- Carers Direct provides information, advice and support to carers, including your options concerning benefits and financial support, and your choices about combining caring with work or study.