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"Waiting times for breast clinic referral"

About: Crosshouse Hospital

(as the patient),

My GP made an urgent referral to the Breast Clinic for me 2 weeks ago saying that I would be seen within two weeks.  When no appointment arrived this morning I phoned the surgery who gave me the number for Crosshouse hospital and told me to speak to appointments. The lady in Appointments was very pleasant but explained that the current wait for URGENT appointments was 2 to 4 weeks.  

I've been in a high level of anxiety for the last two weeks so to be told I may have to wait ANOTHER two weeks just for an initial appointment is extremely distressing.  I don't have any constructive suggestions to improve the situation apart from the obvious. I just felt that the impact of missing waiting time targets should be highlighted. 


Response from Eunice Goodwin, Patient Feedback Manager for NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Quality Improvement and Governance Team, NHS Ayrshire and Arran We are preparing to make a change

picture of Eunice Goodwin

Dear Marmite67,

I am sure this must be a very distressing and worrying time for you and I am sorry you are waiting longer than you were advised initially. I am sure you will have done so, but just in case you haven't, If you can be free to attend at short notice, please let the appointments team know. If there is a cancellation, you could possibly benefit from being seen earlier.

I appreciate that your anxiety will be high but I suspect we have increased your anxiety by giving you the expectation that your appointment would be within two weeks. Again, may I say how sorry I am for any additional distress caused to you. In order to address the misinformation aspect of this, we are exploring how to reduce the possibility of this happening again.

I know this will be of little comfort for you while you wait, but it I hope it is helpful.

I do hope you get your appointment soon and everything goes well,

best wishes,


  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful

Update posted by Marmite67 (the patient)

Thank you for your response. I now have an appointment to see the consultant, 5 weeks after my urgent referral and yes I did let the hospital know I was available for cancellations.

I agree that it is about expectations. I incorrectly expected that the service from NHS Scotland would be comparable with that in England and Wales where I believe the target time for an urgent referral to be seen is 2 weeks. I was unable to find the target times in Scotland as referenced in "Scottish Referral Guidelines for suspected cancer" dated May 2014, so perhaps so they can not be quoted or referenced. The only guidance appears to be that the wait should not be "too long" according to the Patients Charter of the same date.

Perhaps as part of your review you could look at renaming the referral to 'priority' rather than 'urgent' as the latter implies a sense of immediacy according to the dictionary definition. Alternatively a perhaps more radical approach would be to take steps to reduce the waiting time and thus expectations would not need to be managed.

I hope that should I be diagnosed with breast cancer in coming weeks that my expectation of starting treatment with the target 62 days of referral will not need to be further managed.