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Changes to outpatients

Face coverings in hospital 

All members of the public now have to wear face coverings when in hospital – whether they are visiting a patient or going to an outpatient appointment. This is to reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus to others.

Face coverings can be cloth or home-made, or be a scarf or bandana, and should cover the mouth and nose. Please bring your own face-covering. Face coverings worn as part of religious beliefs or cultural practice are acceptable, providing they are not loose and cover the mouth and nose. Children and babies under three years should not wear a face covering.

For more information on how to make your own face covering, visit Gov.UK website.

Exemption badges for those unable to wear face mask or covering

If you are unable to wear a face mask or face covering while in a public place, or need assistance due to your age, health or disability, you can print off a badge to let other people know. You can also print off a badge if you need people to take off their mask or face-covering so you can better understand what they say. Wearing this badge is a personal choice and not required by law.

If wearing a face-covering is difficult for you, or if you are deaf or hearing impaired, please contact the number on your clinic letter before you come into hospital.

Telephone or video outpatient appointments

If you have not been contacted to attend your face-to-face appointment, you can assume we will contact you to offer a telephone or video consultation as an alternative.

If clinically possible, your doctor will aim to call you within an hour of your scheduled appointment time. You do not need to let us know in advance if you would like a telephone consultation but you should contact us if you would like to reschedule your appointment.

If you miss the telephone call, or are not able to answer the call, your doctor will review your notes, write a letter to you and your GP and make follow up arrangements as necessary.

Online video consultations - How to guide 

Text message reminders

As soon as we have created a new clinic appointment for you, changed or cancelled an appointment, you will receive a text message. Sometimes you will receive the text message before you receive a letter about your appointment. For some appointments, you can reply CHANGE or CANCEL to ask for the appointment to be changed or cancelled. This will save you having to telephone the hospital. You will see a link to www.nhs.my/imperial in the text, where you can find a list of your upcoming appointments. Sign in by entering your name, date of birth, and postcode. We may send a one-time code to your mobile phone for added security.

Coming to hospital for a planned procedure or surgery 


Preparing for your hospital appointment

Your referral

NHS e-Referrals

Our services use NHS e-Referrals (previously known as Choose and Book) to manage referrals to many of our clinics. This means that when your GP refers you to a consultant for your first outpatient appointment, they will use NHS e-Referrals to do so.

Many services offer the opportunity to select the date and time of your appointment. In that case, your GP may ask you to select the date and time of your appointment while you are in the practice. Alternatively, your GP may give you a booking reference number and password so you can book your appointment at home.

Some services – including some cancer and cardiology services – are referral assessment or triage services. This means our team of consultants will review the referral from your GP to ensure you are given an appointment at the most appropriate clinic for your needs. In that case, the service will contact you to arrange an appointment.

Our services can be very busy, so it may be that there are no appointment slots available to book. In that case, your GP will submit your referral to the appropriate service without selecting an appointment slot. The service team will contact you to arrange an appointment.

If a service needs to contact you to arrange an appointment, you can expect to hear from them within two working days for cancer services, and five working days for standard services. Visit NHS Choices for more information about e-Referrals.

Other referrals

Some of our clinics are not available to book on e-Referrals. In that case, once you’ve been referred to us, you’ll receive a letter via email or post with all the details of your appointment, including date, time, location and where you need to go when you arrive. Please check you are able to come to your appointment and let us know if you can’t. If you don’t let us know, you may not be offered another appointment.

Once you’ve been referred to us, you’ll receive a letter via post or email with all the details of your first hospital appointment, including date, time, location and where you need to go when you arrive. Please check you are able to come to your appointment and let us know if you can’t. If you don’t let us know, you may not be offered another appointment.

If you currently receive your appointment letters in the post, but would rather receive the information by email, you can use one of our self-check in kiosks when you next come to hospital to give us your email address. If you change your mind you can always revert back to posted letters by following the instructions in the email we send you.

If you are coming in for diagnostic tests, please read any information we’ve sent to you with your letter. We will give you any special instructions you need to follow before your test, such as fasting the night before.

Changing or cancelling your appointment

Check your appointment letter or email for details of how to change or cancel your appointment. If unsure, contact our central booking team on 020 3313 5000 or email: appointments@imperial.nhs.uk. Please remember to include your hospital or NHS number (which can be found on your appointment letter), your full name and your date of birth in your email. Our central booking office is open 08.00 to 20.00, Monday to Friday.

If your first appointment with us was made through the NHS e-Referral Service (previously known as Choose and Book) call the NHS e-Referral Service appointments line on 034 5608 8888 to reschedule your appointment.

Appointment reminder

If you have given us your mobile number or land line number you will receive an automated phone call reminder approximately seven days before your appointment. You will be asked to confirm your identity and then listen to the details of your next appointment. You will be given three options: confirm, reschedule or cancel the appointment. If you select reschedule or cancel you will be put through to a member of staff in our central booking office who will help you with this.

If you have given us your mobile number or land line number you will receive an automated phone call reminder approximately seven days before your appointment. You will be asked to confirm your identity and then listen to the details of your next appointment. You will be given three options: confirm, reschedule or cancel the appointment. If you select reschedule or cancel you will be put through to a member of staff in our central booking office who will help you with this.

If we have your mobile number we will also send you a text reminder approximately two days before your appointment.

You can give us your mobile phone number when you come to clinic so you can receive reminders about any follow up appointments. If you would like to stop receiving reminders please contact our central booking office on 020 3313 5000 or email:appointments@imperial.nhs.uk.

Getting to hospital

We advise giving yourself plenty of time to get to hospital and to locate your clinic.

What to bring

You will need to bring the following to your appointment:

  • Your appointment letter
  • Any medication that you are currently taking (or a list of it)

You may also need:

  • Money to pay for prescriptions, or an exemption card if you are entitled to free prescriptions

Special requirements

  • Carers coming to hospital

    Carers are welcome to come to hospital to support patients' health and social needs. Although there are restrictions on visitors coming to hospitals, a familiar carer or supporter is not considered a visitor. We recognise carers play a vital role in supporting patients’ communications needs – particularly where a patient has dementia, learning disabilities and/or autism. We can provide carers with a ‘carers passport’ so that each patient’s main carer can be identified easily. Ask your care team for more information.
  • Do you need an interpreter?

    If you require a foreign language interpreter please let the receptionist know when you arrive for your clinic appointment and they will organise access to a telephone interpreting line during your consultation.

    If you require a sign language interpreter please tell your GP. They will advise us when they refer you to our services and we will organise an interpreter for you. If you have not told your GP, please contact us directly at least 10 days before your appointment on 020 3311 7697 or by emailing imperial.interpreting@nhs.net.
  • Disabled access

    Our main outpatients departments and many of our buildings have disabled access and disabled accessible toilet facilities. Please view the maps/location information for each of our sites for more information. If you require a wheelchair, we will book for a porter to come and collect you when you arrive at reception. There is a hearing loop system available in the main outpatient departments at each of our hospital sites and the audiology and ENT clinics.
  • Learning disabled patients

    We advise all patients with learning disabilities to bring a carer or friend with them to their appointment. Our outpatient care assistants (OCAs) can also support you during your visit to outpatients and act as chaperones. They can also help direct patients to other departments for tests and investigations.

  • If you need a chaperone

    You are welcome to bring a chaperone with you to your appointment. We have outpatient care assistants (OCAs) who are available to support you during your visit to outpatients and to act as chaperones. Your clinician will request a chaperone for any intimate examinations you may have.
  • Accessible information

    If you need information, such as leaflets and advice in a different format e.g. Braille or large text please email imperial.Accessible.Information@nhs.net or ask your GP to request this on your behalf in advance of your appointment.

When not to come to your appointment

If you have had vomiting or diarrhoea in the last three days we would ask you to reschedule your appointment. This is to make sure you are not infectious to other patients.


At your appointment

Arriving at your appointment

Your appointment letter should tell you where to go for your appointment, but if you are unsure ask a member of staff to help.

When you arrive in the outpatients department, please use one of our self-check in kiosks at the entrance to let us know you’ve arrived. To use the kiosks, enter your date of birth and confirm your appointment and contact details on the screen. You can also enter your email address if you’d like to receive future appointment letters by email. A member of staff will be available if you need any help.

Once you have checked in, you will be directed to the area you need to wait in and then you will be called forward by a nurse or a doctor for your appointment.

There may be limited seating in the waiting area so please only bring one relative or friend with you. If you have young children, you can bring them with you.

Please be on time for your appointment. If you are early you will not be seen more quickly, but if you are late other patients who arrived on time may be seen before you.

Waiting times

Please set aside at least two hours for your first outpatient visit to allow for any tests or scans you may need. Be aware that sometimes appointments can take up to half a day.

We will make every effort to make sure you are seen on time, but outpatient departments are very busy and sometimes delays are unavoidable. The patient before you may take longer than expected, or the doctor may be away on an emergency. Our staff will keep you regularly informed of any delays.

You may notice that a patient who has arrived after you is seen before you. This patient will likely be seeing a different doctor to you.

Some of our services offer all your diagnostic tests plus your outpatient appointment in one day. This means we can discuss your test results and potential treatment plan with you after you’ve had the tests, all in one visit. These appointments generally take at least half a day.

Who will I see?

During your appointment, you may see your consultant or another doctor or nurse working in the same team. All of our staff will be wearing their name badges and will introduce themselves to you.

If you feel particularly strongly about seeing a female or male doctor, please let a member of staff know when you arrive.

Some of our hospitals are teaching hospitals. This means that doctors teach medical students during their clinics. If you would prefer not to have medical students present during your consultation, please inform a member of staff.

Consenting to treatment

We want to make sure that you fully understand your condition and the different treatment options available. Before you receive any treatment, your doctor will explain what he or she is recommending, including the benefits, risks and any alternatives. Please ask questions if you are unsure about anything.

You may be asked to sign a consent form for your treatment. You are able to refuse treatment at any time, including after you have signed a consent form.


Everyone working for the NHS has a legal duty to maintain patient confidentiality. Information about you and your care is kept strictly confidential.

Find out more about your health records and how we protect your information 

Mobile phones and wifi access

You can bring your mobile phone with you to hospital, but it can be disturbing to other patients and staff if you take calls. When you enter a waiting room or clinical area, please ask us if it is appropriate to use your phone.

Wifi is available free of charge throughout our hospitals for you to use on your own mobile device. Select the WiFiSPARK_FREE network to connect to our free wifi service.


Smoking or using e-cigarettes is not allowed inside any of our hospital buildings.



After your appointment

At the end of your outpatient appointment, we will discuss next steps with you. You may need to come in for another appointment or be sent for tests. In some cases, we will be able to establish a treatment plan for you on the day. Some patients who have all their diagnostic tests in one day and do not need treatment will be discharged to the care of their GP.

We will write to your GP to let them know what happened at your appointment, including your test results and any treatment plan we have put in place for you.

Before you leave

We encourage you to ask questions at your appointment. You and your healthcare professional will work together to make decisions about your care, so before you leave your appointment, make sure you understand:

  • What your diagnosis is/what might be wrong
  • Which treatment is best for you
  • Whether you need any further tests
  • Whether you need to book a follow up appointment at reception
  • What happens next


If your doctor or nurse gives you a prescription you’ll be asked to collect this from the hospital pharmacy or your GP. Please note, as with all NHS prescriptions, you will have to pay a charge unless you are exempt. If you don’t normally pay for your prescriptions, you will need to bring proof of your exemption with you, such as an income support book. NHS Choices offers more information about paying for prescriptions.

Locate a pharmacy 

Booking a follow up appointment

If the healthcare professional you see asks you to book a follow up appointment, please ask to do this at reception before you leave.

Follow up video consultation appointments

We’re piloting a new outpatient video consultation appointment service. You may be asked if you’d like to have your follow up outpatient appointment using our new video consultation service

Friends and family test

The friends and family test is one of several ways we measure and monitor patient experience. We ask you to complete this quick test to let us know how we’re doing. You can complete the test in our clinics or from home, at your convenience. Learn more about our friends and family test and results.