Hospital waiting times and quality of care vary greatly across England. Read our guide to beating the NHS hospital waiting list.
You have a legal right to have your free NHS treatment at an NHS or private hospital of your choice* and to change hospital if you've waited over 18 weeks**
You can use Health Compare to choose a hospital for your treatment, paid for by the NHS, you or your insurance
Choose or change to the Right Hospital for Your Treatment
Hospital waiting times and quality of care vary greatly across England.
We can help you:
Get your NHS treatment quicker or at a higher quality hospital
Find the best self-pay/insurance covered treatment
By choosing or changing to the right hospital *
How Does the Hospital Search Work?
You have the legal right to have your free NHS treatment at an NHS or private hospital of your choice*. Use Health Compare to make this choice or to select the best hospital paid for by you or your insuranceStart your search
2. Search, compare and make enquiries
Use the site to make an enquiry at one or more hospitals
3. Decide and inform your:
- GP/Online doctor (NHS)
- Chosen Hospital (if Self Pay)
- Insurance Provider (if Insurance policy)
52.6% of people surveyed did not know they have a legal right to choose an NHS or private hospital for their free NHS treatment
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† independent poll conducted of 2,000 people carried out in April 2022 by onepoll
Among your legal rights are to choose a:
Choosing a GP
You can choose which GP practice to register with, as well as which doctor or nurse you would like to see. That practice must make every effort to allow you to see the person you've chosen, however there may be occasions where this is not possible*
Choosing a Hospital
When an NHS GP initially refers you to see a consultant or specialist, you can choose which hospital you would prefer to be referred to. You can choose an NHS hospital or a private hospital that is contracted to do NHS work. You can make this choice ahead of your first appointment, whenever you are referred for a physical or mental health condition. Exceptions apply*
Choosing a Consultant Team
You can choose which clinical team will be responsible for your NHS treatment, so always discuss your options with the person referring you.
For a physical condition you will be seen by a consultant or a clinician from their team. For a mental health condition you will be seen by a consultant, a mental health team leader or a member of their team
In England you have a legal right to make choices about your NHS healthcare that could mean you or your loved ones get seen faster and feel better quicker
Choose the organisation: you have a legal right to have your free NHS treatment at an NHS or private hospital of your choice*
Choose which clinical team: patients have a right to start consultant-led treatment within 18 weeks** of referral (or two weeks in the case of urgent suspected cancer) or request an offer of alternative providers that can start their treatment sooner. The NHS must take all reasonable steps to meet patients' requests
Read our guide to choosing the right hospital
Still have questions? Why not read our guide to selecting the right hospital for you
In this guide
- Key things to help you navigate the NHS system and achieve the best outcomes, for you and your family
- Key factors to consider in deciding between NHS or private self-pay
- Key things to know in selecting the right health insurance policy. Associated hospitals authorised under those policies can be searched on our site. Go to search results and select the filter
Frequently Asked Questions
Will I be charged for using Health Compare?
No, this service is completely free to the patient.
Will the NHS really pay for me to have my NHS treatment at a private hospital?
Yes. If you are referred by a GP for NHS treatment, the NHS will pay for your treatment at an NHS or private hospital of your choice, as the Health and Social Care Act 2013 gives you the legal right to choose. There are some exceptions, but most private hospitals across England have a contract with the NHS to perform treatments on their behalf (click here for Exceptions).
Can I change hospitals if I've been waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment?
Yes. Patients have a right to start consultant-led treatment within 18 weeks of referral or request an offer of alternative providers that can start their treatment sooner. The NHS must take all reasonable steps to meet patients' requests.