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Your choices: consultant choice

Choosing a consultant

If you need to see a consultant as an outpatient, you can choose which consultant will be in charge of your treatment. You will be seen either by the consultant or by a doctor who works with the consultant in their team.

If you need to see a mental health professional as an outpatient, you can choose which professional (including consultants) will be in charge of your treatment.

This is a legal right, but there are times when you cannot choose.

You can only choose a consultant whose team deals with your condition.

If you need urgent or emergency treatment, you cannot choose who you see.

You do not have the right to choose if you are:

  • a prisoner
  • a serving member of the Armed Forces
  • detained under the Mental Health Act 1983
  • using maternity services

You should be offered a choice of consultant when you are referred by your GP, dentist or optometrist. If they do not offer you a choice, contact your local clinical commissioning group (CCG).

Your CCG must make sure that you have this choice.

If you are not offered a choice, you can complain. Find out more about the NHS complaints procedure.


Page last reviewed: 11/06/2013

Next review due: 11/06/2015

The Choice Framework 2014

The Choice Framework explains when you have a legal right to choice about treatment and care in the NHS. The legal right to choice doesn't apply to all healthcare services, however, where you do not have a legal right to choice you should at least be offered some choices, depending on what’s available locally.

Waiting times guide

You have the right to start your consultant-led treatment within a maximum of 18 weeks from referral. Find out how it works

Ask the doctor

Tips on how to make the most of your doctor's appointment, including a checklist of the most basic questions to ask