The referral management service exists to ensure that patients are seen in the most appropriate settings for their care needs. Your referral will be assessed by a clinician who will determine, from the information provided by your dentist, where this is. It could be in a hospital or in a community or primary care setting.
As a patient you cannot choose which of these settings you are seen in – however, your dentist will always discuss with you the options available. If you are referred to a hospital then you will have rights to choose which one as discussed below.
Patient choice and team work is at the heart of NHS service provision
Dentists and other health care professionals must work in partnership with patients, with each other, and as part of a wider multi-disciplinary team to provide high quality care to patients.
We are committed to offering choice where available and making sure that this choice is as informed as possible.
Referrals into Hospital Dental Services
If you are referred for your first outpatient appointment then in most cases you have the right to choose which hospital in England to go to. This will include many private and NHS hospitals that provide services to the NHS.
You are also able to choose which consultant-led team will be in charge of your treatment, as long as that team provides the treatment you require. Therefore, if you wish to be treated by a particular consultant for a procedure, you can choose to have your first outpatient appointment at the hospital where the consultant works, and to be treated by that consultant’s team – but this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be seen by the consultant themselves.
This choice is a legal right, if you are not offered a choice at the point of referral, ask your dentist why and say that you wish to go through your options. If you are still not offered, or refused, a choice, contact us. Please note that this only applies for referrals that will be sent to hospital – many referrals will be seen in community settings and you do not have the right to demand a hospital appointment if one is not deemed necessary.
Note: if a dentist wants to refer you for a service or treatment that they think is best for you but is not routinely offered by the NHS then the process is different. Examples include adult orthodontics or implant treatments. The dentist will have to submit an Individual Funding Request (IFR) to your Area Team and provide details of where they want you to go.
You do not have a legal right to choice if:
- you need urgent or emergency treatment
- you are serving in the armed forces
- you are accessing maternity services
- you are detained under the Mental Health Act
- you are detained in or on temporary release from prison, in court, an immigration removal centre, or a secure children’s home
if you are referred to high security psychiatric services or drug and alcohol misuse services provided by local authorities
You can find out more information about the NHS Choice Framework here.
Primary / Community Care
The right to choose a primary care provider is not guaranteed in the same way as secondary care. However, we do all we can to ensure that choice is available.
Your dentist will be able to explain the choices available to you and our directory of services lets you explore all of the services in your area. You can look at the directory here.
We ask our providers to give us information on their wait times – you can tell your dentist if you want to be seen by:
- the nearest provider to you
- the quickest provider
- a specific provider
You can also ask your dentist to provide you with a guide to your referral.
Not every area has choice in primary care – this depends on the number of clinics available
The NHS Choices website provides more information on services in your area.