In most cases patients are referred by their GP to a specialist. This may be a hepatologist, gastroenterologist or infectious diseases consultant. They will usually be located at a nearby hospital. In some cases your specialist may be some distance away; this varies enormously across the country.
Patients do not have an absolute right to choose the consultant responsible for their care but they can choose the hospital at which they will be treated using system 'Choose and Book'. This is a service that lets you choose your hospital or clinic and book your first appointment. When you and your GP agree that you need an appointment, you can choose which hospital or clinic you go to. You will also be able to choose the date and time of your appointment. Click here to find out more www.chooseandbook.nhs.uk/patients/whatiscab
Often consultants delegate the task of examining patients to their team, but retain overall responsibility for the care of the patient. Your specialist will primarily be involved in the care specific to your hepatitis C, although other aspects of your general health will be of concern to them.
Remember that while hepatitis C may be new to you, your specialist is likely to deal with the care of a number of hepatitis C patients. As a result, they will have a broader knowledge base and experience that they can share with you.
Any questions, either specific to your own care or generally related to hepatitis C, can be directed to them.
Your specialist will be responsible for determining appropriate diagnostic tests and procedures, monitoring and assessing your condition and advising appropriate medications or treatments.
However, you should be involved in all of the decisions relating to your care. You have a right to be kept informed why certain tests or procedures are considered necessary and what they may involve. No procedures or tests should be undertaken without your full, informed consent.
Your specialist or clinical nurse specialist will usually also make themselves available to your partner or next of kin if they have any concerns; this may be very important for those concerned about transmission of hepatitis C.