The Patients Association welcomes the focus on patients being enabled to exercise their existing right to choose in the recently published Elective Recovery Taskforce implementation plan.

Patients in England have had the right to choose where they receive their care for more than a decade. But many patients don’t know they have this right. We raised this fact last year when we published the report Time to Choose. Then, we gave some ideas of what the NHS should do to let patients know about their right to choose and how to support them to use it.

We’re pleased to see that some of our ideas are in the Elective Recovery Taskforce’s plan.


The plan says patients should be able, supported and encouraged to make informed choices about where they can have treatment. We very much hope the plan will lead to greater shared decision making between patients and GPs during conversations about where a patient could have treatment.

To encourage this, NHS England will be running a campaign to make sure patients know about their rights to choose and how to exercise that right. This is something we called for last year when we published Time to Choose.

Other actions in the plan include:

  • The expansion of the My Planned Care website that gives patients the ability to compare waiting times across all providers within a specialty, including independent
  • Making it easier for GPs and other healthcare professionals who refer patients to hospital consultants to see the hospitals and units that offer the services the patient before them needs, and being able to easily see waiting times at each unit
  • NHS England is working to make it easier for patients to manage their appointments; eventually, patients will be able see their appointments on the NHS app and ask for changes.

Importantly, NHS England will record and monitor how many patients exercise choice. This too, is something we asked for and think is very important.


The Taskforce was formed in December 2022 to look into how to tackle NHS waiting lists, which are growing and now stand at more than 7 million patients. It was asked to consider how the independent sector could support the NHS by treating patients on the waiting lists.

Our Chief Executive, Rachel Power, has been a member of the Taskforce.

Rachel says: “Now that the plan has been published, and the NHS will promote patient choice, our expectation is that patients will be able to work in partnership with their GPs to decide if travelling out of their area to receive treatment is the right choice for them.”

If you've exercised your right to choose where you receive care, why not share your story with us? Email us on [email protected].

Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash