When you are referring patients directly, eg direct cataract referral, you may be asked which treatment centres are available to them.
It is usually in patients' best interest to be seen locally, however they do have the right to be seen outside of the area, and can choose to go to any hospital or clinic in England that offers NHS services for their first appointment, provided that that hospital or clinic offers the right treatment and care for their condition.
They also have the right to choose, subject to certain conditions, to receive treatment which is normally available to them on the NHS in other countries within the European Economic Area.
For more information about Patient Choice, visit http://www.nhs.uk/choiceinthenhs/yourchoices/Pages/your-choices.aspx
and/or download the document on the right.
Remember that under the MK direct cataract referral scheme (which you may only use if you are accredited under that scheme, and your practice has a contract with MKCCG) you may only refer patients who are registered with a GP in the MKCCG area.
Similarly, optometrists accredited to the Bucks direct cataract referral scheme may only refer, under that scheme, patients who are registered with a GP in the Buckinghamshire CCG area. (Buckinghamshire CCG is the new name for the combined Aylesbury Vale and Chiltern CCGs.) (Click the link on the right for lists of CCG member practices.)
To refer such a patient to a hospital or clinic outside the area: for the MK scheme, simply send your referral as usual to MKCCG, who will redirect it; for the Bucks scheme, send it directly to the chosen hospital or clinic. In both cases, state clearly that your patient wishes to exercise his/her right of choice to have the surgery performed at the chosen hospital.
Optometrists working in practices close to CCG borders might also want to consider applying for contracts/accreditation to the appropriate schemes for neighbouring areas.