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Sunday 24th June 2018

Using the NHS

4th December 2008

Emma Dent, as a patient, looks at how best to get what you want from the NHS.


Pharmacies in the area of London I live in often have posters in their windows suggesting that NHS patients can usually choose where to have their treatment.

While not having read the small print, I had always thought it would be interesting to test the theory. That opportunity arose when I became pregnant.

I know that NHS system fairly well and am aware of what I am entitled to. But, as many people become aware, being a patient disempowers you.

I soon discovered that when I went to my GP, fully expecting to be able to choose the hospital where I would have my baby, one that was convenient and had a good reputation for its facilities.

I was surprised to be offered three hospitals, but not the one I favoured – which was close by - with my GP informing me that the surgery did not “have links with it.” Two of the hospitals that were offered were, among other things, too far away.

With the GP unmoved, I settled on hospital C, aware that a friend who lived in the same PCT area had her baby at my favoured hospital last year.

My disappointment was saved when a midwife informed me I could self refer wherever I liked. Soon after, my husband and I were at the hospital of our choice viewing a screen with a scan of our baby on it. That’s patient power.


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