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Your choices: consultant choice

Choosing a consultant

If you are referred by your GP or other health professional to a specialist, then you have the right to choose which hospital to go to for your first outpatient appointment and which consultant-led team will be in charge of your treatment.

This means if your GP recommends a particular consultant for a procedure, then you can choose to have your outpatient appointment at the hospital where the consultant works – but this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be seen by the consultant. Although the consultant has overall responsibility for your care, you may be seen by a doctor working within the team led by that consultant.

Tip: Watch the What is a consultant? video and find out more about their role.

If you are referred for a mental health condition, then you can choose which mental health team led by a named healthcare professional will be in charge of your treatment.

This choice is a legal right, so if you are not offered a choice, contact your local clinical commissioning group (CCG). Your CCG must make sure that you have this choice. If you still don’t get a choice, you can complain following the NHS complaints procedure.

Helping you to decide

On this website, you can already compare hospitals according to a range of subjects such as waiting times, facilities, specialist treatments and patient safety. 

If  you are referred for treatment and you would like to know how a consultant performs for this procedure, or compare consultants from different hospitals before you make your choice for your first outpatient appointment, then use our Consultant search tool.

You can search for consultants working in hospitals in England by name and postcode. For some specialties you will also be able to see how many times a consultant has performed a particular procedure, including quality measures such as complication rate, adverse events and mortality rates.

You’ll also be able to compare the information to other consultants specialising in this particular speciality in England.

TIP: You can find more detailed information about the results by clicking on the information icon displayed under each indicator. 

For more information about the data, visit

Page last reviewed: 18/11/2014

Next review due: 18/11/2016

Making your choice checklist

1. Know your choices
Discuss your options with your GP
2. Find and compare hospitals
Choose according to what matters most to you, and compare hospitals to make your choice
3. Talk about it
Discuss your choices with family or friends
4. Book an appointment
Contact your GP practice, or access NHS e-Referral Service online or by phone on 0345 608 8888


Services excluded from choice

You cannot choose:

  • if you need urgent or emergency treatment
  • if you are serving in the armed forces
  • maternity services
  • if you are detained under the Mental Health Act
  • if you are detained in or on temporary release from prison, in court, an immigration removal centre, or a secure children’s home
  • if you are referred to high security psychiatric services or drug and alcohol misuse services provided by local authorities


Download the NHS Choice Framework and find out where you have the legal right to choice in the NHS.


What is a consultant

When you are referred to hospital for specialist tests or treatment, then you are often seen by a consultant or a member of the consultant-led team. This video explains the role a consultant has in providing your care.

Media last reviewed: 20/10/2014

Next review due: 20/10/2016