We are sorry that some patients are waiting longer than usual for an appointment, operation or procedure following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Waiting for your hospital appointment 

We are working hard to see patients from our waiting lists as quickly and safely as possible in order of clinical need. We have also committed to carrying out more planned activity than in previous years, so that we continue to reduce the long waits that built up during the pandemic. 

If you are currently waiting for an appointment or procedure with us, please be assured that we will be in touch as soon as we are able to offer you an appointment.  

Staying well 

While you are waiting, there are things you can do to stay well and prepare for your procedure if you are having one. These include stopping smoking, exercising regularly, reducing alcohol intake and eating a healthy diet to help your body manage the demands of surgery and aid recovery. Visit NHS Better Health for free advice on getting active and making healthy choices. 

We know that waiting for a while can have a huge impact on your daily life, including your mental health, so it’s important to look after your wellbeing too. Visit Every Mind Matters for expert advice and practical tips for looking after your mental health. 

You can also speak to our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) who can provide you and your family with support and information and put you in touch with support groups. 

Why are there delays? 

Most of our planned care was suspended during the pandemic to allow us to focus on caring for those with Covid-19 and other urgent and emergency conditions. This means we were unable to carry out planned activity leading to a build-up of appointments and procedures which we are now trying to address. 

We have made significant progress in reducing our waiting lists, but we continue to face challenges including from the very high levels of demand on our services from urgent or emergency patients, which we are expecting to increase over the winter months.  

What are you doing to reduce waiting times?

We are working much more closely with other NHS hospitals in north west London to provide better care for the longer term. Collectively we have several initiatives to reduce waiting times, these include: 

  • ‘fast-track surgical hubs’: As part of a wider NHS initiative, we have identified 14 surgical facilities across hospitals in north west London that are now dedicated to specific routine operations. We offer care at one of these ‘fast-track surgical hubs’ to patients from across our hospitals’ waiting lists, in order of clinical priority. We will let you know if your operation is suitable to be provided in a fast-track surgical hub when we contact you to arrange a date for your treatment. 
  • increasing capacity: We are organising extra operating lists and clinics where possible, including at the weekends and evenings in some cases. 
  • appointments at another hospital trust in north west London: In some cases, patients may be given the opportunity to have their operation or procedure at another hospital in north west London that has shorter waits and more capacity. We will discuss this opportunity with you when we contact you to arrange a date for your treatment. 

What should I do if my health or condition is getting worse? 

If you are worried about your health, or if your condition deteriorates, you should contact your GP or call NHS 111. If you ever think a situation is a life-threatening medical emergency, please call 999 immediately. 

Our hospital clinicians are also regularly reviewing our waiting lists to make sure we still have the right clinical prioritisation for all of our patients and to assess if there is any potential for harm due to longer than usual waiting times. We will contact you – and your GP – directly if we have a concern. 

How long will I have to wait for my appointment? 

Waiting times vary depending on your condition and clinical need.  

We are prioritising those who have the most urgent clinical need while also looking to reduce long waits. Anyone who is on an urgent pathway for a possible cancer diagnosis continues to be seen as quickly as possible.  

We publish our waiting times on our website [LINK]. You can learn more about waiting times for each speciality broken down by NHS trust on the NHS My Planned Care platform. 

How will you contact me? 

We normally book surgery dates a minimum of three weeks ahead. We will try to contact you by telephone so that we can discuss date options and to explain what you need to do. We will email or post a letter to you, if we cannot get through to you by phone. 

Normally, for an Outpatient appointment, you will receive an email (or a letter by post if you have not registered an email with us) with your appointment date and further details. We try to arrange ‘virtual’ outpatient appointments – via telephone or video – wherever possible and appropriate. 

How do I rearrange or cancel my appointment/treatment? 

Please call the number on your appointment letter or email us as soon as you can in advance, so we can reschedule your appointment and offer this date and time to someone else.  

NHS111 First - the easiest and safest way to access urgent care 

The NHS 111 team will quickly make an assessment and, if you need urgent care, can book you an appointment in an A&E or urgent treatment centre. NHS 111 can also book appointments at GP surgeries, pharmacies, emergency dental services and walk-in clinics. And they can offer self-care advice. 

It means you get directed to the right service for you as quickly as possible and avoid waiting in busy areas.