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Two week appointment system

Why have I been referred to the hospital?

Your General Practitioner (GP) or Dentist has asked for you to have an urgent hospital appointment within two weeks. The 'two week' appointment system was introduced so that a specialist would see any patient with symptoms that might indicate cancer as quickly as possible.

Does this mean I have cancer?

No it doesn't. The majority of patients referred under the two week appointment system do not have cancer, but it is important to see a specialist as soon as possible to confirm or exclude a cancer diagnosis. Early diagnosis and early treatment is shown to improve health outcomes if it is cancer.

So why has my GP referred me?

GPs diagnose and treat many illnesses themselves. However, on occassion they need to arrange for you to see a specialist doctor at a hospital. This could be for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Your symptoms need further tests
  • the treatment already given to you has not been effective
  • tests your GP arranged have shown some abnormal results
  • to exclude serious illness

What symptoms might need an urgent referral?

Symptoms such as:

  • a lump that does not go away
  • a change in the size, shape or colour of a mole
  • abnormal bleeding, e.g. from the bowel, vagina, in your urine etc
  • a change in bowel or bladder habits
  • significant unexplained weight loss
  • persistent unexplained cough (for three weeks or more)
  • coughing up blood
  • difficulty swallowing

Will I need any tests?

You may require extra tests; these may take place either before, during or following your first appointment at the hospital. This will help the specialist to understand the cause of your symptoms. The hospital might phone you to arrange extra test if needed.

What do I need to do now?

  • Your GP should make sure you are available to attend your first hospial appointment within two weeks of you seeing him/herPlease let the GP know immediately if you have any holiday planned or you are not free for an appointment within those two weeks
  • Make sure that your GP has your correct address, home telephone and mobile number
  • If your local hospital contacts you wiht an appointment offer please can you make sure you attend the appointment as it is important that you are seen quickly
  • Please bring all your current medicines with you when you come for your first appointment

What happens next?

  • You might want to consider bringing a relative or friend with you to your hospital appointment
  • When you attend your first appointment please let the hospital know if your address, home telephone and mobile number have changed so that you may be contacted easily by the hospital
  • At your first appointment the hospital doctor or nurse will give you more information about what will happen next. They will also be able to give you information leaflets or tell you about useful websites
  • Please feel free to ask the doctor or nurse any questions you may have
  • If you would like a copy of the consultation letter please ask the doctor or nurse when you see them

If you are not contacted by the hospital within three working days of your referral please let your GP know immediately so that they can make sure that your appointment is being correctly processed.

The CCG, in conjunction with Ipswich Hospital, has produced a leaflet with information about the two week wait referral system.

Read more about Cancer and waiting times on the NHS Choices website.

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