Changing hospital

Don’t endure increasingly long NHS waiting times, find out today if you can switch to a Practice Plus Group hospital.

Consultant at Devizes

Change your hospital and switch hospital waiting lists

If you have to endure increasingly long waiting times for routine elective surgery, there could be a solution for you.

In some cases, you can ask to be switched to a different hospital waiting list if you have been told that you will have to wait for treatment for more than 18 weeks.

What is the 18-week rule in the NHS?

Your options

If you need to see a consultant you can ask to change your hospital if:

  • your treatment is not urgent and you have to wait more than 18 weeks before starting treatment for a physical or mental health condition
  • you have to wait more than two weeks before seeing a specialist for suspected cancer

Your Integrated Care System (ICS), or NHS England (if you have been referred to a consultant-led specialised service), must take all reasonable steps to ensure that you are offered an appointment at a suitable alternative organisation that can start your treatment earlier than if you were to continue to wait for treatment from the provider you originally chose. If there is more than one suitable alternative organisation, you must be offered a choice from all of them.

Are these legal rights?

Yes, but there are circumstances in which you may not ask to change your hospital.

When may I not ask to change to a different hospital?

If you have to wait for more than 18 weeks for non-urgent treatment to start, you do not have a legal entitlement to ask to be switched to a different hospital waiting list if:

  • the services you are using are not led by a consultant
  • you choose to wait longer for your treatment to start
  • delaying your treatment is down to a risk associated with treating you at that time – i.e. you do not currently meet the safe criteria for treatment
  • you fail to attend appointments which you had chosen from a set of reasonable options
  • you decide not to start, or you decline, treatment
  • a doctor has decided that it is appropriate to monitor you for a time without treatment
  • you cannot start treatment for reasons not related to the hospital, for example, you are a reservist posted abroad while waiting to start treatment
  • your treatment is no longer necessary
  • you are on the national transplant list
  • you are using maternity services.

Transfer from one NHS hospital to another

Did you know you have the right to choose where to have your NHS surgery?

If you or a loved one needs to see an NHS specialist, you can choose to access any hospital or treatment centre in England.

We know that making an informed decision, and the right choice for your individual needs, is important to you and your recovery, so we want to help as much as possible.

Department of Health – Information Booklet

For a visual guide and more information on how to change your hospital, the Department of Health website prepared a document to download. Please note that the following link will lead you out of our page and Practice Plus Group is not responsible for the content.

Department of Health: choose Easyread leaflet 4: Changing your hospital

You will also find a lot of other useful information on your choices within the NHS on this page.

Comparing hospital waiting times

The NHS Waiting List Tracker is a useful tool for keeping an eye on current waiting lists. You can also compare by area of the UK. For instance, the tool allows you to see that currently, North-East London, Kent and Medway, and Birmingham have the highest waiting lists. On the contrary, Portsmouth, Blackburn and Knowsley currently have the shortest NHS waiting lists in the UK for orthopaedic surgery.

How long is the NHS waitlist?

According to a report from the Royal College of Surgeons in England, the number of patients on the NHS waiting list reached six million in 2022. Of these, over 18,500 had been waiting for more than two years for their surgery. Patients on the waiting list for hip replacement face the longest waiting times1.

What are the maximum hospital waiting times?

According to the NHS website, the maximum waiting time for non-urgent referrals is 18 weeks from when your appointment is booked. However, as has already been mentioned, in some areas of England and the UK, patients have been on the surgery waiting list for more than two years.

Where am I on the NHS waiting list?

While there’s currently no way to discover your exact position on the NHS waiting list, there are resources that patients waiting for treatment can use. Both the NHS Waiting List Tracker and My Planned Care are resources that can provide patients with the current waiting times in their area.

How can I check hospital waiting times near me?

NHS resources such as the Waiting List Tracker and My Planned Care provide information as to waiting times in your area.

Why are NHS waiting times so long?

The answer to this question isn’t solely down to one reason. The following are all contributing factors to the lengthening on NHS waiting times:

  • Population growth – increasing population means more people needing medical treatment
  • COVID-19 pandemic – the pandemic saw COVID patients given priority over those on waiting lists for non-life threatening surgery. This created waiting list backlogs that weren’t attended to until restrictions were eased
  • Loss of qualified medical professionals – between 2016 and 2019, the number of qualified, permanent GPs and practice nurses fell by 5% for GPs and 2% respectively2

The effects of the pandemic on hospital waiting times

As mentioned previously, the impact of the COVID pandemic on both health services and waiting times has been profoundly negative. From February 2020 onwards, COVID patients were prioritised over those needing non-life threatening surgery (such as knee and hip replacements). This meant the waiting list grew and now counts among the highest levels ever. The number of people waiting for surgery on the NHS currently stands at over six million people.

What to do while you wait for your surgery

The type of surgery you need will dictate the kind of preparation you can do. If, for example, you need knee, hip or eye surgery, you should start to prepare right away. Removing hazards from your home (loose rugs and cables) to prevent falling, placing items within reach, and clearing space for walking with crutches, are all good ideas for preparation.

You should also consider strengthening and conditioning your body prior to surgery. Maintaining a healthy weight also reduces the amount of stress that will be put on the knee joint post-op.

Anti-inflammatory medication can help significantly. They can help manage the pain, allowing you to carry out daily activities and maintain a level of fitness.

How can I get surgery faster?

If you’re currently on a waiting list, you can read about tips for having your NHS surgery sooner. However, if you want to reduce surgery waiting times, there are alternative options to the NHS. You may want to consider paying for yourself with private healthcare. At Practice Plus Group, we follow a consultant led approach. You will be supported throughout by an expert Consultant and a Private Health Coordinator who specialise in hip and knee replacements.

If, after your initial enquiry, you are eligible for surgery (and happy to proceed), you will receive a no obligation appointment. This will cost £95 and includes your x-ray. It will take place at a Practice Plus Group hospital appropriate for you within 2-3 weeks of enquiry.

After a further consultation, your Private Health Coordinator will help arrange your surgery dates. They will also provide you with all of the relevant information you will require to prepare and start treatment. Surgery normally takes place between two and four weeks of your consultation.




Next steps

See all reviews

Truly wonderful

I had an op today in Emerson Green and wanted to say how well I was looked after and cared for. Truly wonderful. Thank you

by Laura Steer, Twitter

Above and beyond

Big shout out to Practice Plus Group Plymouth who went above and beyond to make my day case visit today as comfortable as possible, from the day case nurses to all the theatre staff. Special mention to Carly, Cathy, Amy and Elaine(?) nothing was too much trouble!

by Sue Bentley, Twitter

Incredibly slick and super friendly

Despite the most huge system demand, strikes and winter pressures the NHS still carries on, so grateful to Practice Plus Group for looking after me yesterday. You were incredibly slick, super friendly and got the job done!

by Joanna Masters, Twitter

Process was very quick and well organised

The whole process was very quick and well organised from first contact to being discharged. The initial telephone contact allowed me to ask questions and be directed to the clinic which would best suit my needs. Everyone involved was very friendly and quickly put me at ease. I was always explained choices and not pressured into any response. My concerns were fully answered enabling me to feel confident to go ahead. I loved my consultants humour during the procedure keeping me involved and relaxed. My eyesight is amazing now with no need to wear glasses so I’m extremely satisfied.

by Mary Hillman, Google

Tremendous skill, diligence and care

Tremendous skill, diligence and care at this hospital. They deserve their reputation as one of the best facilities in the UK for hip and knee replacements.

by Ian Keys, Google

Superb care

Attended for a colonoscopy, superb care from Siobhan the receptionist through to Kemi, the lady who carried out the procedure and everbody inbetween, such care and dedication rarely seen these days. Thanks to all, you made a daunting afternoon much, much better!!!

by Dianne Keys, Google

Friendly, caring and professional

Attended for cataract surgery and cannot fault the care I received from every single member of staff. Following a warm and friendly welcome at reception, pre surgery checks were carried out in a friendly, caring and professional manner with everything clearly explained – this carried through to the actual procedure where theatre staff were so kind and reassuring.

by Yvonne Akrill, Google


A big thank you to Mr Sadek and his team for the outstanding way they looked after me during my hernia surgery. Everyone was so friendly and polite and looked after me so well. Thank you all of you.

by Richard Lewis, Google

Exceedingly courteous and helpful

Appointments staff exceedingly courteous and helpful getting both my elderly parents booked in for appointments on the same day and directly after each other, for eye surgery.

by Paula Stubbs, Google

Very impressed

Very impressed by this team. All appointments ran to time and all staff empathetic, skilful, kind and friendly. Thank you for all the team who dealt with my hernia surgery yesterday, it was a pleasure to meet you all. Great sense of team work and moral, and all communication and managing of expectations top notch.

by Jon “Jev” Ev, Google

Looked after all way through

The Endoscopy staff were fantastic put me at ease straight away. Dr Patel was so nice and what I thought was going to be a horrible experience wasn’t. Looked after all way through.

by Jane Morgan, Google

Would recommended to everyone

Had hip op recently. Big thanks to Mr Flood..Maria..and all the hospital staff they treated me with care ..respect thank you all for being there for me. Would recommended to everyone.

by Arthur Syson, Google

Service was excellent

The service was excellent and all the staff were kind and considerate and helpful during my stay. It’s never nice having to have a operation but they made the experience a lot better and I was very impressed.

by Alan Cole, Google

Reassuring and kind

All the staff were amazing friendly and helpful. They were understanding, reassuring and kind. The receptionist, the dental surgeon and the dental nurse were all fantastic. I can’t thank you enough for how kind you all were.

by Liberty Davies, Google

From start to finish my treatment by all was amazing

I had a Partial Knee Replace at this hospital on the NHS. From start to finish my treatment by all was amazing. I cannot praise the care I had enough. The nurses are so friendly and caring. The hospital was very clean. A good choice of food. Highly recommend.

by Audrey Hartley, Google

Really felt looked after

Staff were absolutely fantastic, really felt looked after. I was nervous about my procedure and the staff were reassuring and kind.
Procedure was smooth and painless. Many thanks all!

by Hugh Jego, Google

So much care and compassion

I recently had a total knee replacement operation at Shepton Mallett hospital, and there are not enough words to describe what an amazing place it is.
Everyone I came into contact with from the beginning of my referral has been so positive. So much care and compassion, I cannot thank you all enough you are all angels.

by Carol Ison, Google

Could not fault the care, thank you

Had a cystoscope done this morning I could not fault the care and the support from Christopher and the nursing team thank you from an anxious patient.

by Gemma Hopkins, Google

So caring

I found the hospital to be very clean, staff could not be more helpful and Nurses and ward team so caring nothing to much trouble, food first class, would recommend this hospital. Thank you to all the staff.

by John Coulthard, Google

Best experience ever for my hip replacement

I had the best experience ever for my hip replacement. Would highly recommend, thank you to all the staff involved throughout

by Franca

Highly recommend

I highly recommend Practice Plus Group! I had eye surgery yesterday and already can see clearly.

by Dave

Aftercare was brilliant!

I went in for my new hip and was out within 3 days! The aftercare was also brilliant – 10/10!

by Peter

Thank you

I just wanted to thank everyone at your urgent treatment centre, the receptionist was lovely, we were seen very quickly despite it being very busy. Thank you again.

by Natalie Cossar, Facebook

Fabulous practice

I had 2 cataract operations by the same surgeon and she was excellent! Both eyes are now perfect and operations went without a hitch! Aftercare was superb!

by Anonymous, Plymouth

Amazing facility

This was my 2nd time as an inpatient at Barlborough for knee replacement surgery and in my opinion you couldn’t have this surgery at a better place. It is truly outstanding.

by Joy Lesley Wright

Absolutely wonderful

I had a knee replacement in May 2022. I have to say that all of the staff from the consultant, the nursing staff and the entire team were absolutely wonderful.

by Susan Farmer

A big thank you

I had a day case hernia repair yesterday and wish to thank all staff involved. Throughout the experience I felt reassured, fully informed and cared for.

by Kevin

Brilliant in every respect

Very polite and helpful staff at all levels. Friendly consultant who explained everything clearly. Extremely efficient x-ray department and choice of treatments.

by Ann Sturtridge

Brilliant service

I visited this walk in centre today and although there were quite a few people already there I was in and out in 15 minutes. They were very efficient and helpful.

by Anonymous

Amazing staff

Went here as a nervous patient. From the moment I arrived I was made to feel welcome and looked after extremely well. Practice Plus Group staff are just amazing and caring.

by M K

Friendly and highly professional

October 2020 I had total knee replacement, NHS referral. My experience was excellent…everyone was caring, listening and very professional.

by Anonymous

No pain at all

Best dentist I’ve ever been to ! Had to have 2 teeth removed this week ! A very professional team took care of everything!

by Mrs Hazel Showering

Fantastic care

I would recommend Practice Plus Group and would use them again if I need to. So, so grateful to all of them.

by Fran Taylor

Well organised from start to finish

Well organised from start to finish. Staff so friendly & reassuring. Excellent facilities & a really personal service provided.

by John Telcot, NSRF Specialists

Nothing was too much trouble

The staff were so friendly & put me at ease. Lovely clean hospital.

by Jennifer

1 / 35


Thumbs-up icon

treatments carried out a month


Star icon

or 'good' ratings by CQC



clean record for hospital acquired infections


Thumbs-up icon

of patients recommend Practice Plus Group

Get in touch