From 1 April 2014 patients with mental health conditions have had the same rights as physical health patients to choose where they have their first outpatient appointment. Patients can now choose to be referred outside of their local area to a provider anywhere in the country.
NHS England have worked with commissioners, providers and GPs, and other key stakeholders to develop interim guidance on the new legal right.
The guidance covers issues such as how to support patients in the choices they are able to make; how to respond to any significant changes in where patients are referred to when patients make their choices; and clarity on pricing and paying for mental health services.
There are exemptions to the new right to choice, such as patients who need high secure psychiatric services or who are detained under the Mental Health Act. These are set out in the guidance.
The guidance document can be read here and is aimed at professionals working for the NHS. NHS England report they are currently engaging with patient and service user representative groups to work through and co-develop tools, resources and support to help patients to better exercise their right to choice of mental health provider.