Waiting for your hospital appointment
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on patient care, particularly waiting times for planned operations, procedures, diagnostic tests and appointments. Good progress is being made in tackling these waiting times.
How did COVID-19 impact on waiting times?
Many services such as planned operations, procedures and diagnostic tests were postponed to ensure sufficient capacity was available in our hospitals to treat patients with COVID-19. This meant that the waiting list grew. However, the way we managed our two hospital sites throughout the pandemic meant that we were able to continue to provide urgent life-saving surgery for conditions such as cancer.
Restoring our services and waiting times
We are fully focused on tackling our waiting list and a lot of progress has already been achieved. In tackling this backlog patients are being prioritised based on their clinical needs, which means that those who require urgent treatment are seen sooner. However, we also recognise the need to see patients with less urgent, but important healthcare needs. Despite our best efforts, we know that many patients continue to wait considerably longer than any of us would like and we estimate that it may take until 2024/25 to get back to where we were. We want to be open and honest with you about this.
Some of the measures the NHS has introduced to help tackle the waiting list include:
- Running extra outpatient clinics and theatre lists at the weekends and into the evening
- Using facilities at our local private hospitals for the treatment of NHS patients, some of whom have been waiting the longest
- Where appropriate to the individual’s needs, telephone and video conferencing continues to offer an alternative to ‘in-person’ face-to-face appointments and the need to travel to hospital appointments. It has been positively received by many patients and we continue to seek feedback on this service.
If your symptoms become worse while you are waiting for your operation, you should contact your GP, go to NHS 111 for advice, or contact the team involved in your care
Keeping you and your family informed
We know how important it is to our patients that they understand what is happening, even if we can’t give them a precise date for their appointment or treatment
- We have established dedicated teams to ensure that regular communication with anyone waiting for care is at the heart of our approach to recovery
- NHS services know about individual referrals and will contact people as soon as possible with an update on their appointment or treatment. We have already contacted thousands of patients and over the spring (2022) will be sending SMS texts as well as letters to thousands more
- We are providing expert advice on prevention and self-care to support people in managing their conditions – either direct to patients or through their NHS services.
My Planned Care
The NHS has recently launched the My Planned Care patient digital platform which gives you direct access to the latest average wait time information for NHS Trusts in England, as well as helpful advice and support whilst you wait.
We encourage you to look at this site where you may find the information you need before contacting your GP or hospital for an update about any elective procedures you are waiting for.
Updated weekly, the site is easy-to-use and is ‘open-access’ so your carer, friends, relatives, and your NHS team can also access this information.
Patient waiting list
We are contacting patients via SMS text message and asking them to enter a unique 4-digit code and their date of birth before completing a short survey. In the SMS text message, titled ‘GHFT-NHS,’ patients will receive a unique 4-digit pin. Patients are being asked to enter the pin and their date of birth so that they can log in and complete a short survey.
If we do not have a mobile number for patients on the hospital PAS system, a postal letter will be sent instead. In responding and completing this survey you will help us to reduce waiting times for our patients.
We would like to assure you that:
- Our communication will only ever ask questions relating to your care
- We will never ask for bank details or reference to money or payment
- We will never ask you for your name or address, however you will be able to update your details if they are not correct
- Our message will include a unique pin and we will ask you to input your date of birth only to log in
- If you do not respond to the text we will write to you asking for completion of the paper survey.
- A business reply envelope will be included to allow the return of the survey without any cost to you. The return address will be in Macclesfield – this is where our team are collating your responses.
Help and support
All NHS organisations have a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) which is there to provide support and advice for patients.
How to Contact Us
- If you would like one our Elective Care Team staff to contact you, either to check that you remain on our waiting list for treatment or to discuss your wait time and any concerns, then please email them at: ghn-tr.WaitingListPatientEnquiry@nhs.net. Please include details of your full name, date of birth, preferred contact number and a brief outline of your enquiry. A member of the team will aim to contact you within 2 working days on your preferred number to discuss.
- If you wish to cancel, change or ask a question about your outpatient appointment please contact the relevant department detailed here
- If your enquiry relates to anything else please visit our Contact Us page for details of key contacts
- Gloucestershire's COVID-19 portal has regularly updated advice and information about COVID-19, including a section about hospital appointments
- The Centre for Perioperative Care has produced a series of Frequently Asked Questions to address some of the concerns that you may have about going to the hospital during the pandemic and to offer advice on how you can best prepare for your operation
- Read our patient leaflet about having an operation at our hospitals