How to change your hospital and switch 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 choices do I have?

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

Your CCG (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:

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 Care UK 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.


Leslie’s story

Leslie was a patient at one of our Care UK hospitals who, having been told he would have to wait 65 weeks for a hip replacement, looked for another solution. He discovered that he could switch waiting lists and decided to benefit from the short waiting times at Care UK. Watch his story here:


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    Dorothy, 2017
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