Urgent referral to hospital

Your GP or dentist think that your symptoms need further investigation, so they have referred you to a specialist. There are many common conditions that these symptoms could be linked to, including the possibility of cancer.

Because this referral is urgent, we will aim to see you within 2 weeks.

Having an urgent referral does not necessarily mean that you have cancer. Most people who have an urgent referral do not have cancer. You have been referred because you need to see a specialist or have some investigations done quickly to help find out what is wrong. If cancer is diagnosed, making the diagnosis early means treatment is likely to be more effective. This is why it is important that you are seen within 2 weeks of the referral being made.

Please make every effort to keep your appointment. This helps make sure that the wait for patients is kept to an absolute minimum.

If you can’t keep your appointment, call the appointment team on 020 7188 0902 as soon as possible. This means we can reschedule your appointment and offer your original appointment to another patient on an urgent pathway.

Preparing for your appointment

  • Make sure your GP and the hospital have your correct address and phone number, including a mobile number if you have one.
  • Once you have agreed to your appointment, it is important that you come to it so that your care is not delayed. You must contact us if you cannot make it.
  • If you do not come to your hospital appointment on 2 occasions, you will be referred back to your GP or dentist.


Please bring a list of all your medicines with you, including any you have bought from a pharmacy or store, and herbal medicines. During you appointment you will only be prescribed specialist hospital medicines, or medicines that you need immediately. Non-urgent prescription medicines should be obtained from your GP.


It is the Trust’s policy not to use family members to translate information during consultations. If you would prefer to be given information in your own language, please contact the appointment team.

Patient transport

If you need hospital transport, please contact the transport office directly on 020 7188 2888. We'll ask you a series of questions to assess your eligibility. If you are not eligible for transport, you can claim back your travel costs (but not taxi fares) if you receive income support, income-based job seekers’ allowance, or working families’ tax credit. You will need to bring proof of benefit. Ask the clinic staff for details of how to claim.

Car parking and travel

Disabled parking is available on St Thomas’ and Guy’s hospital sites. Other car parking is very limited and we encourage you to travel by public transport where possible. We have detailed travel information on our website. You can also contact the Knowledge and Information Centre. Call 020 7188 3416 or email [email protected]

At your hospital appointment

You will usually see a specialist who gives you more information about what will happen next. You might need tests to help the specialist, and your GP or dentist, understand what is causing your symptoms. You will be told in advance if you need to have any tests during your appointment, so please make sure you follow any instructions given to you.

You can bring a friend of family member with you, as it might be helpful if you are concerned about understanding what the medical team will discuss with you.


As we are teaching hospitals, students might be involved in your care. Students are always supervised by fully qualified staff. This does not affect the quality of your treatment, but does give valuable training to the students. Please tell us if you do not want students to be present. We will respect your wishes and it will not affect your care any way.


We will always offer a chaperone if an intimate area of your body needs examination, but you can request a chaperone at any time during your appointment.

Follow-up appointments

Please bring your diary with you when you come to the outpatient clinic, as we might need to arrange dates with you for follow-up appointments and treatments.

Over the next 2 to 3 weeks there might be short-notice appointments for diagnostic tests and consultations. It's important that you come to these appointments. If you cannot come to these appointments, please contact us so that we can offer another patient your original appointment and make another one for you.

Resource number: 2811/VER4
Last reviewed: November 2022
Next review: November 2025

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