Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group

Choose and book

When you and your GP agree you need an appointment, you can choose which hospital or clinic you go to for your first outpatient appointment as defined in National Guidance. You will also be able to choose the date and time of your appointment.

What does Choose and Book mean for me?

As well as giving you a choice of hospital, date and time for your appointment, Choose and book will also give you the ability to:

  • plan and manage around your existing appointments, if you are currently undergoing treatment
  • fit your treatment in with your other commitments, at home and at work
  • choose appointments that fit with your carer's schedule
  • check the status of your referral and to change or cancel your appointments easily over the phone or on the internet.

How Choose and Book works

When you and your GP agree that you need an appointment with a specialist, Choose and Book shows which hospitals or clinics are available for your treatment.

If you know where and when you would like to be seen, your GP may be able to book your appointment before you leave the surgery. You will be given confirmation of the place, date and time of your appointment.

Alternatively you may receive an Appointment Request letter by post. Your Appointment Request letter lists your unique booking reference number, a password, your NHS number and a list of hospital or clinic options for you to choose from.

There are various ways you can book your appointment:

Phone: 0345 60 88 88 8
Textphone: 0345 8 50 22 50
Internet: visit www.chooseandbook.nhs.uk

Opening times of the Appointments Line are Monday - Friday, 8am - 8pm and weekends and bank holidays 8am - 4pm (closed Christmas Day). Call charges from landlines and mobile networks may vary.

For routine appointments, the Appointments Line automatically sends out two letters to remind patients to book their appointment. For routine appointments, the first letter is sent 14 days after the patient has been referred by their GP/referrer and, if the appointment is still not booked, the other letter is sent another 14 days after the referral. Letters are sent out sooner for more urgent referrals.

If you have any queries you can contact the Appointments Line or the website above.

18 weeks from referral

Under the NHS Constitution, you have the right to start non-emergency, consultant-led treatment within 18 weeks from referral - or where cancer is suspected, to be seen by a specialist within two weeks of urgent referral. This means that any hospital appointments, tests, scans or other procedures that you may need before being treated will all happen within this maximum time limit.

Choose and Book will offer you a list of hospitals to choose from, together with a range of available appointment dates and times. You can then decide to go to a particular hospital even if it means you will have to wait longer, or to have an earlier appointment at another hospital.

Information about waiting times at different hospitals is available on the NHS Choices website. You can also call the Appointments Line on the number above.

Make sure you are ready, willing and able

As a patient you can help us to ensure you get treated as quickly as possible and here’s how:

Ready You understand what your appointment is for and your GP has answered your questions in relation to your treatment.

Willing You are able to attend the appointment. If you have to change an appointment do so as early as possible, so the appointment can be used by another patient. Remember if you cancel your appointment this may lengthen the time you have to wait to been seen.

Able You are well enough to be treated. Consider your lifestyle, as well as managing any long term conditions such as diabetes’s or asthma. This will help ensure you are fit enough for your tests or treatment.