Hospital Referrals

If you have been referred to an NHS secondary / hospital service, please be advised that wait times are very long, some routine services are currently taking over 12 months for patients to be seen.

As such a service has been provided to help support patients with waiting times and information, and to reduce the additional strain on the GP and hospital services from patients chasing appointments.

In most (but not all) cases your referral with be raised through the Devon referral Service (DRSS). The GP sends all the information off to a specific team which reviews the referral and is triaged. DRSS will then either reply back to us providing advice for the GP to action with the patient, they may request further information from us, or if they feel the patient needs to be seen at the hospital and have everything they need, they will assign the patient to a service waiting list.

If a patient is placed on a waiting list, DRSS will then send the following letter out to the patient with information on what to do whilst they wait. This process can take several weeks, and depending on the service, the patient may not receive this letter, but the advice for all patients remains the same.

Please click Download button to save and view an example of a blank patient letter.

If your query is how long you have to wait, or could you be seen elsewhere to reduce wait times, then Please call DRSS helpdesk on 01626 883888 (Open 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday).


When will I be seen?

The NHS is working hard to give people this information. All the hospitals in Devon are making sure care is given to people most in clinical need first. To help you understand how long the wait may be please visit – please note the times shown are average waiting times so your wait could be much longer.

I haven’t heard anything – have I been forgotten?

Waiting times are much longer than usual. Please be assured that by getting this letter it means you are in the system and you have not been forgotten. Do keep hold of all your letters and check the current waiting times on the MyHealth Devon website. Please do not contact the hospital or your GP to check where you are on the list as they are very unlikely to be able to tell you where you are on the list. 

Will it be quicker to be seen somewhere else? 

You have a right to choose to be seen and treated at another appropriate hospital in England. If you do decide to be seen at a different hospital you will have to travel and have the full treatment, including any follow up appointments, at the same hospital. For more information about your right to choose please visit the MyHealth Devon website.

My condition has changed – what should I do?

If you are much better and you no longer need to be seen it would be helpful to inform the hospital so you can be removed from their lists. If you feel your condition is getting much worse, you can contact your GP to help with the symptoms. Your GP is unlikely to be able to get you seen quicker or know the current waiting times but can help you manage your condition.

What can I do while I wait?

Many people are waiting longer for treatment and we know this can be difficult. There are things you can do to help yourself stay well and prepare for your treatment:

  • Visit the MyHealth Devon website – –the My Condition section offers information on managing a range of topics and conditions, including pain management, anxiety and stress.
  • Get/stay in shape for surgery – not every referral leads to an operation, but where it does, the healthier people are before surgery, the better your outcome. The Local Support section of the MyHealth Devon website has information on healthy lifestyles and tips and advice on getting in shape for surgery.
  • Appointments may arise which will reduce your waiting time. It is worth being ready to accept a short notice appointment if it is offered.

Information on the MyHealth Devon website is reliable and regularly updated. If you are unable to access the website, please call the DRSS helpdesk on 01626 883888.(Open 10am – 4pm Monday – Friday)

I am really struggling to manage – what can I do?

If you struggle to cope with everyday tasks whilst you are waiting, there may be support available in the community. Please call Living Options Devon on Freephone 0300 3731333 or email: [email protected] – the advisor will try and put you in contact with local support that can help you with practical steps to keep you well while you wait.

Private referrals:

Some of our patients who are able to do so are opting to see a private consultant to significantly reduce wait times. We are not able to recommend a private consultant, or arrange any appointments, this needs to be done by the patient or carer, however we should be able to provide your chosen consultant with a referral letter if requested. Please contact the secretaries on 01271 863119 option 3, or email [email protected] with details of who, where & when you are being seen, and the email address for the chosen consultant so we can get this letter off quickly.

Please allow up to 14 days to generate a referral letter (this is likely to be far shorter if an NHS referral already exists). The GP must be aware of the condition you are being referred for, and agree with referral.

Urgent referrals

If your GP has referred you for an urgent referral, please be aware that this can still take weeks to be seen, depending of the triage decision by the hospital. Please follow the advice above if you are concerned regarding the wait times with the exception of the following referrals:

2 Week Wait referrals:

These referrals are specifically to rule out the possibility of cancer and as such take priority in the booking system. As a rule you will usually be seen within 2 weeks of referral by your GP, however some services occasionally take a few days or even a week longer. Your GP will advise you if you have been referred under the 2 week rule. If you have not heard anything within 7 days from seeing your GP, please contact the secretary team on 01271 863119, option 3.

Surgical Emergency Clinic:

If your GP has referred you to the surgical emergency clinic you will be contacted by the hospital within 24hours from referral and the GP will ensure you are available within 48 hours to go into hospital. If you have not heard within 24 hours, please contact the secretaries on 01271 863119 option 3