Patient Choice

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Patient Choice banner

If your GP needs to refer you for a physical or mental health condition, in most cases you have a legal right to choose which hospital or service you go to. This includes NHS and many private hospitals that provide services to the NHS. You may also choose your clinical team led by a consultant or named healthcare professional.

GP surgeries tend to refer to local hospitals and services, however if you want to be referred somewhere else in the country or if you want your doctor to see if there is another hospital that can see you more quickly, ask your GP. If your GP thinks there is a clinical reason why you shouldn’t go somewhere else, they will tell you.

You can choose a hospital or service based on whatever matters most to you – this could include waiting times, quality of service, your previous experience, the opinions of other patients, the location or your GP’s recommendation.

Why should I choose where to have my treatment?

People tell the NHS that they want to be more involved in making decisions and choosing their own healthcare.

Most people say it is helpful to be able to choose where and when they access NHS services. Even if you don’t mind where you go, it is important to know that you have a choice.

It may be that you want to go somewhere away from home but closer to your family. Or perhaps you want to start your treatment as quickly as possible. It’s entirely up to you to decide. 

Where can I find information to help me choose?

There are a number of places where you can access information about hospitals and services:

  • You can ask your GP about what might be the best choice for you, once you tell them what matters to you most.
  • You can compare information about hospitals, services and consultants at This website includes information about the quality of care, waiting times, parking and travel. Simply search using the ‘Services Near You’ option available at the top of page. You can also search according to the operations and treatments that the hospitals or services offer.

Click here for more information on Patient Choice, or visit

Diabetes Information

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As a clinical network we are aware that there is a huge volume of information available relating to Diabetes. Following discussion at the south east Essex Diabetes clinical network we would like to advise GP practices to direct any patients with interest in diabetes (particularly any recently diagnosed diabetic patients) to the following sources:

Dr Alex Shaw on behalf of the south east Essex Diabetes clinical network

Safeguarding Children training

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Level Who Frequency & duration Training, education and
learning opportunites
Level 1 Non-clinical staff working in healthcare settings e.g receptionists, domestics, maintenance staff, volunteers across healthcare settings Over a three-year period, staff at level 1 should receive refresher training equivalent to a minimum of 2 hours.

Online via Neil McGregor, Training and education facilitator.

Level 2 Minimum level required for non-clinical and clinical staff who have some degree of contact with children and young people and/or parents/carers, e.g administrators for looked after children and safeguarding teams, healthcare students, practice nurses. Over a three-year period, professionals at level 2 should receive refresher training equivalent to a minimum of 3-4 hours. 

Multi-disciplinary and scenario-based discussion drawing on case studies and lessons from research and audit.

Organisations should consider encompassing safeguarding learning within regular, multi-agency or vulnerable family meetings, clinical updating, clinical audit, reviews of critical incidents and significant unexpected events and peer discussions.

Online via Neil McGregor, Training and education facilitator. 

 Level 3

Clinical staff working with children and young people and/or their parents/carers who could potentially contribute to:

  • assessing
  • planning
  • intervening
  • evaluating

the needs of a child or young person and parenting capacity where there are safeguarding /child protection concerns, e.g GPs specialist nurses for safeguarding, sexual health staff.

INITIAL:Within a year of appointment a minimum of 8 hours of education and learning related to safeguarding/
child protection.
Those requiring specialist-level competences should complete a minimum of 16 hours.
REFRESHER: Over a three-year period, professionals should receive equivalent to a minimum of 6
hours (minimum of 2 hours per annum)
Level 3 requiring specialist knowledge a minimum of 12-16 hours (for those at and skill).

Multi-disciplinary and inter-agency, delivered internally and externally. It should include personal reflection and scenario-based discussion, drawing on case studies, serious case reviews, lessons from research and audit, as well as communicating with children about what is happening.

Consider encompassing safeguarding/child protection learning within regular multi-professional and/or multi-agency staff meetings, vulnerable child and family meetings, clinical updating, clinical audit, reviews of critical incidents and significant unexpected events, and peer discussions.

Book through CCG Safeguarding Children Team:

Essex Safeguarding Children Board

CCG Governing body member training 

CCG governing body members are required to undertake specific safeguarding children training  as part of their roles and responsibilities not withstanding their required training in their professional roles. To access this training please contact Sharon Earl in the safeguarding team.

ESCB Training

The Essex Safeguarding Training Board have a number of training opportunities for practitioners.


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Healthy Caring Guide 

NHS England, in partnership with Carers UK, Carers Trust Age UK, Public Health England, and older carers themselves, has published a Practical Guide to Healthy Caring.

The Guide provides information and advice to carers about staying healthy whilst caring and identifies the support available to help carers maintain their health and wellbeing.

While it is aimed at carers of any age, it is particularly relevant for carers aged around 65 years and those new to caring.

The Practical Guide to Healthy Caring is a companion guide to A Practical Guide to Healthy Ageing was originally published in January 2015 and updated in October 2015.

Both guides have been co-produced with experts and partner organisations and tested with carer focus groups and networks. The guide covers a range of topics that provides hints and tips on how carers can look after their own health as well as support the person they care for.

The guide aims to support to support the 5.4 million carers and in particular those 1.2 million aged over 65, who make a critical and often underappreciated contribution not only to loved ones, neighbours and friends but to the very sustainability of the NHS itself.

The Guide is an A4 magazine-style publication that members of the public, professionals and organisations such as CCGs, pharmacists, Fire and Rescue Services and GPs can order free through Prolog, by calling 0300 123 1002, quoting reference HC2 or on-line at

Find the right service

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If you're feeling unwell but are not sure where to go, make sure you seek the right help and advice.

NHS 111 is the best number to call if you need non life-threatening health services fast. NHS 111 is free and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Choose the right service for your needs.

Find out pharmacy opening times for the May 2016 bank holiday.

  Self care

Treat yourself at home for things like a grazed knee, sore throat, cough.

Self-care means keeping yourself fit and healthy as well as knowing how to take medicines, treat minor illnesses and look for help when you need it. If you have a long-term condition, self care is about understanding the condition and how to live with it.

Visit NHS Choices to find out how a well-stocked medicine cabinet can prepare you for most common ailments. offers guidance on self care.

  NHS 111

If you need medical help fast but it's not an emergency, NHS 111 can help by giving advice and/or access to the most appropriate services such as dentist, pharmacy, community services and GP services. NHS 111 can also dispatch an ambulance if needed. 

NHS 111 is free from landlines and mobiles 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 


Visit your local pharmacist for things like diarrhoea, minor infections, headache, earache, coughs and colds, runny nose, warts and verrucas.

You could save yourself time and trouble with a visit to your pharmacy. Instead of waiting for a GP appointment, you can visit your local pharmacist at any time - just walk in. Pharmacists can give advice or, where appropriate, medicines that will help clear up the problem.

If your problem is more serious, your pharmacist will recognise this and advise you to see your GP instead. 

To find your local pharmacy, visit  

  GP surgery/health centre 

Visit your GP for things like continuing ear pain, fever, stomach pain, vomiting and other illnesses.

GPs look after the health of people in their local community and deal with a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, offer advice on smoking and diet, run clinics, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical operations.

To find your local GP surgery visit  or call NHS 111.

  Out-of-hours health services 

The out-of-hours period for GP services is 6.30pm to 8am on weekdays and all day weekends and on bank holidays.

If your GP surgery or dentist is shut but you need assistance urgently, NHS 111 can book you an appointment with an out-of-hours GP if necessary. 

  A&E or 999

A&E and 999 should only be used for serious emergencies like choking, chest pains, heavy bleeding, if you can't breathe, serious burns, fractures.

To find your local A&E department visit or call 999.