Appointment Waiting Times

To enable us to give you the best care and in the shortest amount of time it is very important that you attend all your hospital appointments. If you know you are unable to attend your appointment please contact us as soon as possible by calling the phone number on your appointment letter. By letting us know early, we will then work hard to offer that slot to another patient waiting for treatment.

18 weeks – our commitment to you

As part of the NHS Constitution, we are committed to ensuring that no patient should wait longer than 18 weeks for hospital treatment. This starts from the time you are referred from your GP to the point that you either start treatment or a clinical decision is made that treatment is not required at this point. This commitment is known nationally as Referral to Treatment (RTT) or 18 weeks (18w).

The NHS Constitution states that you have the right to:

  • start your consultant-led treatment within a maximum of 18 weeks from referral for non-urgent conditions; and
  • be seen by a cancer specialist within a maximum of two weeks from GP referral for urgent referrals where cancer is suspected.

The maximum waiting times are detailed in the NHS Constitution handbook which constitutes the whole of the NHS in England.

The following services are not covered by the right:

  • non-medical consultant-led mental health services;
  • maternity services; and
  • public health services provided or commissioned by local authorities.

18 weeks – your responsibilities

There are things that we can all do for ourselves and for one another to help the NHS work effectively, and to ensure resources are used responsibly. To ensure we provide you and all our patients with the best treatment and care possible we want to make sure that we make the best use of our theatres, clinics and staff who work in them. To make this happen, you have a part to play:

  • turn up on time for you appointment
  • make sure you are available over the 18 week period from when you are referred
  • let us know as soon as possible if you cannot attend an appointment, or you will be referred back to the care of your GP

The NHS has a finite number of appointments available so by cancelling early you help enable us to offer your appointment to someone else who needs it.

You can also help us to improve the care we can provide to you by:

  • letting us know if you have changed your contact details (mobile phone number, home address etc.)
  • contacting us if you have been waiting too long

Kettering General Hospital appointment rules

Kettering General Hospital has guidelines that support delivery of the best possible care for our patients while also ensuring that we are using our resources in the most effective way. This means for adult patients (that are able to make informed decisions) if you do not attend your first appointment after referral without letting us know it is likely that they you be referred back to your GP. This allows us to ensure that the waiting times of other patients are managed effectively.

All patients have the right to rearrange their first appointment, however if you cancel your appointment a second time it is likely that you will be referred back to the care of your GP.

Patients will be discharged back to their GP unless there is a pressing clinical reason not to do so.  

Exceptions to 18 weeks

In some cases, it may not be appropriate or possible to see and treat a patient in an 18 week period. For example:

  • you choose to wait a few weeks longer
  • delaying the start of your treatment is in your best clinical interests, for example where stopping smoking or losing weight is likely to improve the outcome of the treatment or
  • you need to be treated for another condition before initial treatment can start, e.g. be treated for a heart problem before undergoing surgery
  • it is clinically appropriate for your condition to be actively monitored in secondary (hospital) care without clinical intervention or further diagnostic procedures at that stage
  • you fail to attend appointments which you had chosen from a set of reasonable options
  • Treatment is no longer necessary
  • You decline the offer of treatment

If you require further information about your appointment please call the number on your appointment letter.

Useful Documents

W10a Access Policy.pdf[pdf] 787KB