In theory, NHS says you have right to choose where you want to be treated 

In practice, this generally means you go where you GP’s surgery has a contract

But , Patients have the right to decide where THEY want to be treated.  Recent stories in the media have highlighted the rise in patients being placed in MIXED wards, so if you are worried about this you have the right to ask to be treated in another hospital.

So I have added more to the information.  Just go ahead, and don’t be put off by a GP that talks about using the hospital they always use!

Latest news is that Mixed Wards are back again, with over 7,000 ‘incidents’ last year and increasing. This means patients will need to look carefully at what is on offer.  GPs should be complaining, but newspaper reports don’t mention any protests.

Theoreticaly, patients have the right to refuse to be nursed in a mixed ward, but I suspect that it is elderly patients who mostly suffer this indignity, as they are too frail or frightened to protest.

Waiting for tests

But for those waiting at home for tests, there was a positive story recently in PULSE (the GP’s magazine), and it does seem that GPs are inclined to be more proactive.  Instead of dismissing our concerns with  “wait and see”.  So if you are worried you may have to wait for tests, you could be pleasantly surprised.

Alternatively, there is nothing to stop you phoning around hospitals to see what are their waiting times for tests, and when you find one with shorter wait time than you have been offered, get on to your GP and say you want a referral to this hospital.  They won’t want to change, but you do have the right – so USE it!

Yesterday, I saw a new Consultant to try and sort out Neuropathy, and he suggested I have an MRI – “just to rule out the possibility….”.  This would never have been suggested a year ago.  But it is reasuring.

Apparently 9 out of 10 UK GPs say they would ignore clinical guidance and send their patients for tests, if they suspected cancer but the symptoms did not fit the criteria for urgent referral.

All well and good, if the Consultant chosen by your GP is good at their job.  But so often today the ‘old fashioned’ GP who kept in touch with their patients, visited them in hospital so knew if an operation was successful, or there were problems, no longer visits, and I suspect hasn’t a clue if you were happy with the op and the outcome.  As far as they are concerned they tick a box that you have had your op in X weeks – and you go into a statistic.

You only have to read about the scandals that went on at Bristol, Mid-Staffs (since renamed).etc. and were allowed to go on for so long to understand that obviously the doctors hadn’t a clue what was happening, and just kept on referring patients to the same bad hospitals.

Prof Karol Sikora doesn’t hold back when he thinks something isn’t right for patients, and recently his sensible comments re climbing the appointments ladder have received four times as many hits as the next most popular article on this website.

Finding a good Consultant

So if you aren’t sure your GP is sending you to the best Consultant for you, how can you find someone suitable?

  • Google the best private hospital in your area.
  • Look up names of Consultants that specialise in the op/procedure  you need
  • Google names of those you like the sound of, and generally they will also have an NHS hospital where they operate, so take the name and tell your GP that’s the person, or one of the Consultants,  you wish to be referred to
  • Just one thing – if you have to wait too long for an appointment, there is nothing to stop you making one privately via their secretary, then when you see them ask if they can see you on the NHS next time.  Most are perfectly happy.  You won’t be the first patient who has done this.
  • The other day a doctor was looking through my notes and pointed out that I had chosen some of the best Consultants in the business.  Mind you, I like them because they all seem to have a sense of humour – essential when dealing with me. 


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