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What is meant by 'outpatient'?

An outpatient is a patient who is not hospitalised for 24 hours or more but who visits a hospital, clinic, or associated facility for diagnosis or treatment. Sometimes surgery is performed without the need for a formal hospital admission or an overnight stay.

Your outpatient appointment

If you are an outpatient you will have been asked to visit the hospital or a clinic for diagnosis or treatment. Within this section of our site you will find information about how to prepare for your visit. Ensure that you report to the clinic indicated within your appointment letter. Check your appointment letter carefully to ensure that you attend the right clinic at the correct location.

Present your appointment card/letter to the receptionist on duty so that they can book you into the clinic. The receptionist will ask you to confirm your personal details. It is very important that we have the correct information concerning your address and postcode along with contact numbers and your GP's address and postcode.

You will be asked to take a seat within the relevant waiting area until the doctor is able to see you. Staff within the Outpatient Department have name badges on but if you do not know who somebody is you are able to ask them.

There are often a number of different consultant clinics being held in one clinic area at the same time, as a result it may seem that patients are being seen out of turn. It is likely that these patients are being seen by a different doctor.


AccessAble helps inform you about the accessible facilities that are available at QEH, featuring relevant information about our hospital to help you make an informed decision when deciding to visit the area.

View AccessAble information

Appointment time

Try not to arrive more than 10 minutes before your appointment time unless specified in your appointment letter. We always do our best to keep waiting times as short as possible and aim to see the majority of our patients within 30 minutes of their appointment time. Sometimes there are unavoidable delays and you may be kept waiting for the following reasons:

  • The doctor may need to spend extra time with some patients
  • Emergencies may present themselves
  • Doctors may be delayed or called elsewhere
  • Some patients may arrive late

In order for us to offer the best service that we can, you should inform us as soon as possible if you are unable to attend your appointment.

Before arriving for your appointment

Before arriving for your appointment check the list of following requests:

  • Read your appointment letter carefully as there may be special instructions for specific clinics
  • Arrive on time, arriving late may cause you delay
  • If you are a new patient you should prepare your medical history (previous illnesses and allergies) in advance
  • Wear clothing that can be easily removed for your examination or tests
  • Bring samples with you if requested in your appointment letter
  • Bring a list of medicines or tablets that you are taking

If the appointment is for yourself it would be best to avoid bringing young children with you. There are limited play facilities in clinics where children are not seen.

Ensure that you know where you are going to, the hospital is a large building that can take time to navigate. You can check or download a hospital map in advance or get further information from the ward or clinic that you are due to visit.

During an outpatient appointment

Seeing the doctor

In some clinics you may have one or more tests carried out before seeing the doctor e.g. x-ray, bloods etc. You may also need to be weighed and have your urine tested. In clinic you will be seen by a member of the consultants team of doctors. You may not see the same doctor each time you have an appointment.

Admission to hospital

The doctor might decide that you should be admitted to hospital. If this is the case they may be unable to give you a definite admission date but they will be able to give you an idea as to when this might be. Your name will be added to the consultants waiting list and you may be asked to come in at short notice when a bed becomes available. If your condition changes whilst you are on a waiting list you should see your GP. If you no longer want or need your treatment you should inform us so that we can remove you from our waiting list.

Further appointments

After you have seen a doctor you may be asked to go for further tests, examinations or the fitting of an appliance. If this is the case you will be given an appointment slip which must be handed to the receptionist before you leave the hospital. If you do require a further appointment this will be booked in before you leave or we will send you a letter by post.

Your information and data

During your appointment you will be asked to provide personal information. For information on why we ask you for this and what we do with it go to our patient information and equality and diversity pages.

Booking, cancelling or changing your appointment

If your GP has not used the NHS e-Referral Service to make your appointment we will have received a referral letter from them. If this is the case we will either make contact with you by telephone or we will send a letter to you. You can contact our Booking Centre on 01553 613400.

If your appointment was made via the e-Referral Service you can make, change or cancel appointments online. You will need the booking reference and password given to you by your GP when your referral was made.

If you need to change your appointment you can also email us at

Failure to attend

Many of our outpatient clinics have a 'failure to attend' policy. If you fail to keep your appointment without telling us we will not give you a replacement appointment without referring you back to your GP. This ensures that we do not waste valuable appointments.

View and manage your hospital appointments and see your single point of contact on the NHS App. Download now.

The Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System website has a summary of useful hints and tips for people to keep as healthy as possible while waiting.

While You Wait - Norfolk & Waveney Integrated Care System (ICS (

The My Planned Care app also has a section on keeping well and preparing for your operation.

My health and wellbeing – My Planned Care NHS

Support to help you be fit and ready for your treatment

We know that many patients may be waiting for their planned and elective procedures at our hospitals. Your local NHS is working hard to reduce waiting times, but this will take time.

While the Norfolk and Waveney health system works to reduce the number of people waiting for procedures, information and resources are available to patients to help you maintain your health while you wait so you can be ready when you’re called forward.

This is important to helping procedures proceed as planned, and to reduce additional delays in treatment.

Visit to find information about waiting times, patient choice in care, and resources to help you get fit and ready for your treatment.