NHS Referrals (Patient Choices)

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NHS patients can often now request treatment in a Private Hospital as a result of the introduction of ‘Patient Choices’ . This was introduced by the government to increase the competition and choices available to patients. As a result, it is your right to choose where you are treated, and many find that by asking a few questions they can receive an NHS funded operation in a private hospital.

In theory, this could be in a shared room, but in practice the experience is often identical to the private patient, except a few menu choices and perhaps a fee to use the TV. If you have any concerns about your feet and you would like a podiatric surgical opinion then visit your GP and request a referral. Depending on what conditions you have and how they affect you there is every chance you will be eligible for treatment on the NHS. You may be referred to the community non-surgical or musculo-skeletal (MSK) department before being referred for podiatric surgery to explore conservative options.


Surgery should always be the final option but if there comes a point where you just don’t think that you are getting what you want from conservative treatment then you may find that a surgical opinion will give you the information you need to make your next decision on treatment, and even some peace of mind as to how you can best manage your condition.

Michael O’Neill is an NHS Consultant Podiatric Surgeon with Barts NHS Trust, London, however he is also available to see NHS patients in the Berkshire and Buckinghamshire areas if they are referred by their GP.

Consult with your GP

Your GP might not know enough about the e-Referral service (formerly known as the ‘Choose and Book system’) however directing them to this NHS link will outline what they need to know. In some instances GPs can be reluctant to refer on, however you have the right to a Podiatric surgical opinion as an NHS patient. Also, where Podiatric Surgery is appropriate it can prevent the requirement for regular routine Chiropody treatments, allowing you to get on with your life pain free.

Although his NHS treatments under the extended care network are limited to surgery Mr O’Neill is able to see any NHS patient for foot pain if other Podiatry departments have failed to resolve the problem.

NHS surgical treatments offered by Mr O’Neill include

  • Bunion correction surgery
  • Correction of toe deformities by surgery
  • Removal and prevention of painful corns by surgery
  • Partial or total removal of ingrowing toenails surgically
  • Morton Neuroma conservative and surgical management

If you are seen at the Gateway Surgical Centre, it cannot however be guaranteed that you will be seen by Mr O’Neill although you will still see one of the Podiatric Surgery team instead.

e-Referral service

The advantages of being seen under the e-Referral service is you get to choose where and when you have your treatment so that it is most convenient for you. As well as this you are seen by only one specialist meaning that you have proper continuity of care as well as the opportunity to be treated in a private facility with state of the art equipment which is set up for day case surgeries.