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Waiting times for your first appointment

Patients have the right to access services within maximum waiting times, or for the NHS to take all reasonable steps to offer a range of suitable alternative providers if this is not possible. This right is a legal entitlement protected by law and applies to the NHS in England. The NHS Constitution sets out your rights to access times for your treatment. In particular, the right to:

  • Be seen within a maximum of 2 weeks from GP referral for urgent referrals where cancer is suspected
  • Start your consultant-led treatment within a maximum of 18 weeks for non-urgent conditions. Your 18-week waiting time starts the day the hospital receives your referral letter, or the day you make a booking for your first appointment/defer to provider, using the NHS e-Referral Service.


If you are planning a holiday for 2 weeks or more or have other commitments, you and your GP may decide to delay your referral until you are available. Please tell us if this is the case.

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