How long will I have to wait for treatment?

If you've been referred for hospital treatment, it's highly likely you will have to wait for your appointment.
A patient in a hospital bed

Image credit: Stephen Andrews on Unsplash

If you're waiting for a hospital appointment or treatment, you can now use the My Planned Care website to check the waiting times at your hospital.

Check hospital waiting times on the My Planned Care website.

If you're referred for a physical or mental health condition, you have the legal right to start non-urgent consultant-led treatment, or be seen by a specialist for suspected cancer, within maximum waiting times.

This only applies to services commissioned by the NHS in England and does not include public health services commissioned by local authorities, maternity services, or non-consultant-led mental health services.

Your waiting time starts from when the hospital or service receives your referral letter, or when you book your first appointment through the NHS e-Referral Service.

During this time period, you may:

  • have tests, scans or other procedures to help ensure that your treatment is appropriate for your condition
  • have medicine or therapy to manage your symptoms until you start treatment
  • be referred to another consultant or department

Your waiting time ends if a clinician decides no treatment is necessary, if you decide you do not want to be treated, or when your treatment begins.

This could include:

  • being admitted to hospital for an operation or treatment
  • starting treatment that does not require you to stay in hospital, such as taking medicine
  • beginning fitting for a medical device
  • agreeing to have your condition monitored for a time to see whether you need further treatment
  • receiving advice from hospital staff about how to manage your condition

Tip: Did you know that in most cases you have the legal right to choose the hospital or service you'd like to go to, as well as the clinical team led by a consultant or named healthcare professional?

For more information, see guidance on NHS hospital services and accessing mental health service.

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