When you need to go to hospital
Hospital waiting times have reduced dramatically in recent years. Hospitals have targets saying that patients need to be given treatment within a few weeks of their doctor referring them. Before some treatments can be given, a number of consultations and tests are necessary. All of these must be carried out within the set timescales: these currently vary between hospitals from 13 to 18 weeks.
This means that if you are referred to hospital, it is important that you go to any appointments that are necessary. These could include, but are not limited to:
- Seeing your Consultant in outpatients
- Having x-rays, scans or any other tests, some of which may mean coming into hospital for the day
- Being admitted for surgery or treatment
If you are planning a holiday, or have a significant event coming up which means that you would like to delay having treatment, please ensure that your doctor knows about this before you are referred to hospital. Also, if you are pregnant, or breast feeding, please speak to your doctor first, as some tests or treatments may need to be delayed both for the safety of either the mother or the unborn baby
Your right to choose
When you and your doctor agree that you need a hospital appointment, you may be able to choose which hospital you go to, and will also be able to influence the date and time of your appointment. Your doctor is likely to use a service called “Choose and Book” which means you will be given a letter with a telephone number to call to book your appointment. More information on Choose and Book can be found on the following website http://www.chooseandbook.nhs.uk/or ask the receptionist for an information leaflet.
If your doctor feels that you need to be seen at the hospital without delay, you may be asked to go to either the Emergency Department or an acute assessment area so that you can be assessed immediately. “Rapid Referrals” to hospitals can also be made for patients who need to be seen within a 2 week timescale. If you have any questions or concerns about what the plan for your treatment is, it is important that you ask the healthcare professional who is treating you. You are also entitled to be given a copy of any letters that are written about you: again, please ask if you would like to receive these.
Re-arranging or cancelling appointments
Each year, over 15,000 hospital appointments are wasted because people do not turn up without letting the hospital know. If you are not able to keep your hospital appointment, please telephone the hospital as soon as you can so that it can be rearranged or cancelled and offered to someone else. Patients who do not attend their hospital appointments without first letting the hospital know, may be discharged from hospital care. This means that their doctor will need to re-refer them to hospital if they still need to be under the care of a Consultant.