Appointments and stays

As a patient, coming to hospital for a test, treatment, operation or stay can be scary and worrying. We want to make your time with us as positive as possible. You’ll find information in this section about what you can expect as a inpatient and what you can expect as an outpatient at our hospitals.

You can also:

  • Read more about our hospitals and facilities
  • Plan your journey to and around our hospitals
  • Read more about our services and wards
  • Find information for visitors
  • Read about our consultants. 

Referrals and appointment information

If you’ve recently been referred to our hospitals, then we will need to contact you with details of your appointment. If your contact details have changed, please contact us so we can update them.

Your GP may referrer you in two ways:

  • eReferral (a national electronic referral service which gives patients a choice of place, date and time for their first outpatient appointment in a hospital or clinic): your GP may directly book an appointment for you through eReferral or give you a unique booking reference number to do so yourself on the eReferral website – you will know your appointment day and time at the time of booking.  
  • Referral: your GP may send a referral letter or referral form directly to the service, or through a Referral Management Service. Once your referral is received, the service will contact you with your appointment details. If you have not heard from us about your appointment within two weeks of visiting your GP (one week if the referral is urgent), please contact us.

We book our appointments based on clinical urgency. This means that we will give priority to our urgent patients, and all other patients are booked in date order from the referral.

If you have any questions about your appointment, please give us a call on:

  • Phone numbers for St Helier and Sutton hospitals
  • Phone numbers for Epsom Hospital

If you are unable to attend

If you are unable to attend your appointment for any reason, you can advise us of a cancellation or rescheduling over the phone by calling the department directly. The phone number should be on your appointment letter or you can find the number in our services. The sooner you let us know that you are unable to make it, the better chance we have to offer the appointment slot to another patient.

If you do need to cancel your appointment, we will offer you an alternative appointment straight away. However, if you cancel your appointment more than once you may be referred back to your GP.

If you do not attend your appointment without cancelling it beforehand you will be referred back to your GP.

Appointment reminders

We operate a telephone reminder service for most appointments. We will try to call you about six days before your appointment to confirm your attendance. If we are unable to get hold of you we will try again at other times to make sure you can still make it.

If you confirm during the reminder call that you are unable to attend you will be contacted again by the booking team to discuss your request within one working day.

You also have the option of opting out of the service if you so wish and you can do this by either contacting the respective service areas or informing the receptionist at your next visit.

Is my treatment confidential?

Yes. Everyone in the NHS has a legal duty to keep any information about you confidential. Your GP will be told of your progress, although you can ask us not to do this.

We also have a legal duty to hold certain information about you. We use this information to care for you, and to monitor the quality of our services.

Apart from these purposes, no information about you will be used in a way that can identify you, unless we ask for your permission. We might use some of the information about you for research and education, but only after all any details which would make it possible to identify you have been removed.

Please let us know if you are unhappy about this.

Please see your information and what you should know for more information

Research studies

You may be asked to take part in a research study. If you are, the researcher will explain the study in detail to you and what it would involve from you.

You are under no obligation to take part in any research, and you have every right to refuse. Doing so does not affect your treatment in any way.

However, if you do decide to help us with research, you will be asked to sign a consent form which confirms you have agreed to take part in the study.

Read more about research at our hospitals.

Medical students

Our hospitals are teaching hospitals - this means that some doctors teach medical students during their clinics as well as on the wards. If you do not want other doctors present during your examination please let the receptionist nurse know.

More information

How we manage appointments and admissions from referral to treatment - please read our access policy for elective care pathways [pdf] 153KB.

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