What should you expect when waiting for planned care?

September 8, 2021


Are you waiting for planned care?

Waiting for planned medical care or surgery can be a difficult and often stressful time. To help ease any concerns get regular, clear, and accessible updates so that you can plan your next steps while you wait.

How can you do this and what can you expect from your communications with healthcare staff?

Be personalised to you and not just a generic response

When you’re contacted by healthcare staff about your upcoming appointment, they should provide honest information about your next steps. You must be made aware of realistic timescales and what to expect while you wait so that you can make an informed decision about your treatment.

Put you at ease around safety concerns regarding COVID-19

Significant steps have been taken to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission while in hospitals. But, if you have any concerns about your safety while in hospital, you should be given contact details to discuss these concerns with a healthcare professional.

Use clear language

When healthcare staff contact you, the language they use should be clear, accessible and easy to understand – whether that’s by letter, email or on the phone. Of course, sometimes technical terms are needed, but these should always be explained to you first.

Share their decision making

You should be part of the conversation when decisions around your health are being made. Healthcare staff should support you to make the right decisions for you and outline the risks and benefits of going ahead with, cancelling or delaying your procedure.

Share your experience

Have you recently had a planned care experience? We are here to listen to your feedback and help you with information and signposting. Everything you tell us is confidential and will help the NHS understand how it can work best for people like you. So, whether your experience is good or bad – we want to hear it.  Click here to leave your reviews

Be transparent around delays and cancellations

When contacted regarding a delay or cancellation to your appointment, you should be provided with a clear reason and information about what happens next. Healthcare professionals must be open and honest with you and give a realistic timescale when you should expect to hear from them again. Further support should be provided to you to help you manage your condition whilst waiting for care. This could be information about or access to other health and care services, or access to pain relief. Above all, it should be clear who you should contact if your condition deteriorates. Your safety should always be the priority.

If you are waiting for an operation and this gets cancelled for a non-clinical reason on the day you were due for surgery, your hospital should offer you another fixed date within 28 days or fund your treatment at a date and hospital of your choice.

Be in your preferred way of communication

Information around your upcoming care should be easy to access and provide you with the option to ask questions. It’s essential that you receive information in the way you prefer. This can often be via phone but alternative options should be available for anyone with specific language or communication needs.

While you wait you might find it helpful to access the following services:



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