Practice Plus Group
High quality healthcare for all
High quality healthcare for all


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.


Can you 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.

Choose your hospital

Choose your hospital

Did you know you can choose your hospital for the highest quality treatment and care?

NHS referral

NHS referral

Benefit from short waiting times and high-quality care in a clean and modern hospital. Don’t wait any longer!



You’ll be given the best care and the undivided attention of our experienced and professional team.