If your GP referred you to hospital for an urgent appointment that could rule out cancer, would you go? Last year 93% attended such an appointment but there were 700 patients (7%) that didn’t and one of the most common reasons was that they had booked a holiday.
As commissioners we want to encourage people to attend an appointment under the urgent two week wait rule. This means if your GP suspects you may have cancer and refers you to hospital for further tests you have a right to be seen within two weeks.
Being referred to the hospital within two weeks does not mean that you have cancer. The majority of patients referred under the two week appointment system do NOT have cancer but may have another condition requiring hospital diagnosis and treatment.
If you are referred on this basis and about to go on holiday and you cannot cancel, please tell your GP.
We know sometimes people feel embarrassed to say they cannot attend as they have a holiday booked and they simply don’t turn up. Please don’t do that, let your GP know and they will book you a new appointment, unfortunately that may not be within two weeks of your return from holiday.
It is also important to remember that the earlier cancer is detected the better your outcome will be.
We understand that holidays are a big family commitment but if you let your GP know they can book you a new appointment – simple.
We want to stress that GPs diagnose and treat many illnesses themselves. Occasionally they need to arrange for patients to see a specialist hospital doctor.
This could be for a number of reasons, such as:
- your symptoms need further investigation
- the treatment already prescribed has not been effective
- investigations your GP has already arranged have shown some abnormal results
The key message is please attend your appointment if you are referred by your GP under the two week rule, it is there to help you get the best health outcomes possible and if you cannot, for any reason, let your GP know.
Maximum waiting times for urgent cancer referrals
The maximum waiting time for suspected cancer is two weeks from the day your appointment is booked through the NHS e-Referral Service, or when the hospital or service receives your referral letter.
Note: Referrals for investigations of breast symptoms where cancer is not initially suspected are not urgent referrals for suspected cancer, and therefore fall outside the scope of this right.
You have the legal right to ask to be seen or treated by a different provider if you’re likely to wait longer than the maximum waiting time specified for your treatment. The hospital or clinical commissioning group (CCG) will have to investigate and offer you a range of suitable alternative hospitals or clinics that would be able to see you sooner. If you’re not happy with the organisation’s response, you can complain using the NHS complaints procedure