When you need to see a specialist right away, it's important to understand the legal rights you have and the expected wait times. An urgent referral means that the patient will be offered an appointment at a hospital within two weeks. It's essential that the referral letter is clearly marked as either urgent or non-urgent. If you are referred for a physical or mental health condition, you have the legal right to initiate non-urgent treatment led by a consultant or to be treated by a specialist for suspected cancer, within the maximum waiting times.
If the situation is serious and you need to see a specialist immediately, you can consider going to an urgent care center or emergency room. If canceling your appointment means that you have to wait longer, you have the right to ask the hospital or ICB to change you to another provider. The My Planned Care website can be used to check waiting times at the hospital. It's normal to feel anxious when your primary care doctor, nurse, or dentist urgently refers you to see a specialist.
The wait time will depend on your specific treatment and clinical needs, and you may be treated faster or you may wait longer than the expected wait time. You have the legal right to request that you be seen or treated by a different provider if you are likely to wait longer than the specified maximum waiting time for your treatment.