Outpatient guide

We’ve put together this guide for anyone who is attending the hospital or one of our clinics as an outpatient.

Getting to your outpatient appointment

When you are first referred to hospital by your GP they will assess your medical condition to decide if ambulance transport is needed.
Transport can be provided for:

  • People who are unable for medical reasons to use private or public transport services for their journey to and from their NHS appointment.

  • People who need the care of an ambulance crew during the journey or need the special facilities provided by an ambulance

  • People who need the special skills of the ambulance crew to get to and from the vehicle to the clinic, ward or department

  • People with other problems which make travelling independently impossible

  • Escorts for people whose physical or emotional care cannot be provided by the ambulance crew, children under 16 and people sectioned under the 1983 Mental Health Act.

The need to provide transport will then be reviewed at each outpatient visit as people’s needs change over time. If you have hospital transport booked but no longer need it, please let us know by calling 020 8401 3051. If you do not meet the criteria for ambulance transport and cannot provide your own transport, please ask a relative or friend to bring you.

Waiting times                

We aim to provide convenient appointments with short waiting times. People are always treated on the basis of their clinical need, with the most urgent cases seen and treated first. People with the same clinical need will be treated in the order in which they were referred.
Where possible, lists are “pooled” and patients given the next available appointment with a Consultant in that specialty. Waiting times will be longer for some Consultants if:

  • They are experts in sub-specialties which few consultants can treat

  • People are choosing to wait to see a named consultant for personal reasons (e.g. a female Consultant)

If you are using the Choose and Book electronic system please use your appointment reference number, password and link to the secure Choose and Book website .

Interpreting and Sign Language Help Services

If you require a language interpreter or British Sign Language interpreter let us know in advance and we will do all we can to help.

Your appointment

When you come for an outpatient appointment you will need:

  • Your full address, including postcode

  • Name and full address of your GP

  • Appointment card or letter

  • Any medicines that you are currently taking (or a list of them)

  • A urine sample, if requested

  • Money to pay for any prescriptions, or an exemption card if you are entitled to free prescriptions

When you attend a clinic you will also be asked about your ethnicity. All NHS organisations collect this information so we can plan and deliver appropriate services for all groups, to identify any health inequalities and to demonstrate that our services are equally accessible for everyone.

When you arrive please talk to the receptionist who will check your appointment card or letter and any other relevant details. Each doctor has his/her own system of appointments and bookings. We try to make sure that you get to see the doctor on time. However, this is not always possible as it might be necessary for the doctor to spend longer with some patients than expected.

Occasionally doctors might also be called away to deal with an emergency elsewhere. If this happens, we will keep you informed. You might notice that a patient who has arrived after you is being seen before you. This is because they are being seen by a different doctor.

Envoy Integrated Messaging Service

Some of the Trust’s outpatient clinics use a messaging service to keep patients informed of their appointments by text message, interactive voicemails and phone calls. If you want to find out if your clinic is using this service, how it works and how, if you wish, you can opt out of it then please read the information on outpatients messaging services here.

During your consultation

Each consultant specialist in the hospital has a team of doctors. They will be responsible for your treatment under his/her supervision. Where possible, lists are “pooled” and patients given the next available appointment with a Consultant or member of his/her team in that specialty. 
As well as seeing the doctor you may need to visit other parts of the hospital for tests such as x-rays or blood tests, but these tests may not be carried out on the same day.

Students and trainee doctors

Trainee doctors are taught in our hospitals and clinics. You will be asked if you object to a trainee doctor being present at your consultation. If you do not want a trainee to be present, please inform the doctor or nurse when you arrive. This will not affect your treatment in any way.

After your appointment

The nurse or doctor will give you a slip of paper. Please put this in the tray on the clinic reception desk so any necessary follow up appointments can be arranged.


If you urgently need medicines after your appointment the doctor or nurse will give you a prescription to take to the hospital pharmacy, which is located on the ground floor of the Woodcroft wing at Croydon Hospital.
All non-urgent medicines will be issued by your GP. You will be given a form to take to your own doctor’s surgery to collect a prescription.

Cancelling an outpatient appointment

If you have to cancel an appointment please let us know so we can offer your space to another patient. You can either call the number on your appointment letter or card or you can send an email. An email address can be found on each service web page.