An outpatient is a patient who is not hospitalised (doesn't stay overnight) but who visits a hospital, clinic, or associated facility for diagnosis or treatment. 

The information in this section will tell you more about your appointment and why it is important to keep it, your treatment at the hospital and facilities and support services we offer at our hospitals.

Your appointment

Once your appointment has been booked with us, you should receive a letter confirming the time, date and location. Please remember to check which hospital you are due to attend.

Your appointment time

Please be on time for your appointment - if you do arrive late, people who are on time may be seen before you. It is not recommended that you arrive more than ten minutes before your appointment time, unless you are required to visit another department for tests before your clinic appointment.

Every effort is made to run the clinic on time, but some patients need longer appointments than expected or doctors get called to emergencies. Please be understanding if your appointment is delayed.

How can I change or cancel my appointment?

Once you have been referred by your GP, you can easily make, change or cancel your appointment by calling the service directly - the contacts details can be found on your appointment letter. You can also find contact numbers for our services in the our services section of our website

If you are uncertain about any of the information in your appointment letter, or if you are unable to make your appointment, please call the number on your letter.

Your appointment letter may also ask you to bring certain items with you (see below), or ask you to visit another department for tests before your clinic appointment.

Appointment reminder service

A few days before you're due into hospital, you may receive a telephone call or a text message reminding you of your upcoming appointment.

The telephone calls are made using an automated service or calls made by staff at a UK-based call centre.

The service is easy to use, and by following the instructions in the telephone call, you will be able to confirm who you are before being given your appointment details. You can then press the appropriate button on your telephone to confirm, cancel or rearrange your appointment.

The service is free of charge for those who wish to participate and if you do not wish to receive a call or text, opting out is simple. To opt out of the service, you will need to call the service you are due to attend directly - these can be found in our services. Calls to these numbers are charged at a standard rate.

Cancellations by us

We try our best to keep every appointment we make.

However, medical emergencies and unforeseen circumstances mean that we sometimes have to cancel appointments. If this happens, we are sorry for any inconvenience caused and will arrange a new date for you as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, we cannot reimburse you for any costs incurred as a result of a cancellation.

What to bring

Please remember to bring:

  • Your appointment letter, and any other information that we may have sent you
  • Any medicines or inhalers that you are using regularly, including any alternative remedies or herbal medicines that you are taking
  • A small amount of money in case you need to buy a drink or snack
  • Information about any change in your personal details, such as a new address, a new GP, or a different next of kin
  • A book, a magazine or something to read
  • Proof of entitlement to free prescriptions, if applicable (eg unemployment benefit documents, medical exemption card, or proof you are under 16)
  • Proof of entitlement to free travel, if applicable.

What if I need an interpreter or signer?

Please call the number on your letter before you come for your appointment. If this is not possible, please tell the staff at the clinic of your needs as soon as you arrive.

Read more about our language support service and other support services we offer.

Help for people with disabilities

More infomation about wheelchair access, disabled parking, the patient transport service, community transport options and help for people with sensory impairments can be found on help for people with disabilities.

When you arrive

Please report to the clinic reception desk so that staff know you are in the waiting area. You will then be called when it is time to see your doctor.

Your treatment

You will be seen by a senior clinician who is responsible for your care. This is most likely to be a consultant (a senior doctor) or a member of their medical team. However, you may be seen by a nurse consultant, a nurse specialist, a midwife or a therapist, depending on your needs.

If you are unsure at any time about who you are talking to, please do ask.

A chaperone may also be present. For more information about chaperones, please see What is a chaperone leaflet [pdf] 2MB.

At the hospital

Read about the useful facilities at Epsom, St Helier and Sutton hospitals.

Infection control and prevention

Infection control our top priority. We have made impressive progress in cutting infection rates and we can build on our success with your help.

Good hand hygiene in the hospital is very important - it prevents the spread of infection by reducing the build up of bacteria, which occurs naturally on hands.

  • Please wash your hands frequently - especially before eating and after going to the toilet. 
  • Rub your hands all over with the alcohol gel when moving from one area to another - it is available at the entrance to all clinical areas.

Read more about infection control and prevention.


After your appointment, if you need new medicines urgently,you will be asked to collect the medicine from the hospital's pharmacy.

Telephone calls

Pay phones are available throughout the hospitals.

Mobile telephones should not be used in certain areas, so please check with staff before you use your phone.


Smoking is not permitted in any hospital building or in any of the surrounding areas. We ask all patients and visitors to go off site to smoke.

Comments, suggestions and complaints

If you have any comments or suggestions, or you are concerned about any element of your treatment or our service, please speak to the ward sister, ward matron or head of nursing for that area (the staff on the ward will be able to give you contact details).

Alternatively, you can contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).

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  • Review on NHS Choices
  • Watch our videos

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Healthy Workplace Achievement Award 2016 NHS Choices