Fast track referrals

If you have been referred by your GP and have been offered a diagnostic appointment, this means you have been given a fast track referral and it is important you go to your appointment.

To find out what happens next please read the information below.

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What is a ‘fast track’ referral?

A fast track referral happens when your GP has concerns that your symptoms might suggest cancer.

They make a referral to the hospital and an appointment to see a specialist is arranged within two weeks.

The hospital will contact you by telephone to schedule the appointment or any tests you might need.

Watch this video to see the information on this page in British Sign Language.

Your GP will refer you if they are concerned that your symptoms could suggest cancer.

9 out of 10 people referred will not have cancer. Symptoms could be caused by a number of common conditions.

What can you expect from a fast track referral?

The hospital will telephone you to arrange an appointment with a specialist.

Please remember to accept a telephone call from an unknown number and make sure your GP has your correct address, email address and telephone number, including any mobile number.


If you have been referred to hospital and have not been contacted within one week, please telephone the hospital you have been referred to:

Dorset County Hospital: 01305 254109 (08:00 – 17:00 Monday to Friday)

Poole General Hospital: 0300 019 2823 – hold for main outpatients (09:00 – 18:00 Monday to Friday)

Royal Bournemouth Hospital: 0300 019 4741 (09:00 – 18:00 Monday to Friday)

Christchurch Hospital: 0300 019 4740 option 4 (09:00 – 18:00 Monday to Friday)

Portsmouth – Queen Alexandra Hospital: 02392 681700 (08:30 – 17:00 Monday to Friday)

Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital: 01256 473 202 (switchboard)

Royal Hampshire County Hospital: 01962 863 535 (switchboard)

University Hospital Southampton: 023 8077 7222 (switchboard)

Salisbury District Hospital: 01722 336 262 (switchboard)

Yeovil District Hospital: 01935 475 122 (switchboard)

What will happen during the first contact with the hospital?

During your first contact with the hospital, the next steps will be discussed with you.

These could cover information about any tests you may need and include scheduling them.

The specialist may need you to go to the hospital for some tests – the decision will be made taking your overall safety and health into consideration.

If an appointment with a specialist is arranged, it is might be a telephone call or online appointment (if the hospital offers virtual consultations). Please tell your GP if you are unable to manage a telephone call or online appointment.

You may be offered an appointment to see the specialist at the hospital if it is decided you should be seen in person.

The hospital will send you confirmation of your appointment or any preliminary tests.

If you do not receive this information or have any further questions, please contact the hospital team who contacted you.


How is it decided if you need tests?

To help the specialist understand the cause of your symptoms, you may need tests before your appointment. The hospital will advise you what tests should be carried out and will make arrangements for you.

It may only be during your appointment that the specialist decides you should have tests and these will be arranged subsequently.

If your appointment is at the hospital, any tests may be arranged while you are there.

What can you expect from a telephone appointment?

You will be given a date and time when the specialist will telephone you.

Remember, this is a formal appointment and you will have an allocated amount of time so make sure you are available to talk to the specialist.


What can you expect from an online appointment?

If you have not had an online appointment before, you will find guidance and information on your hospital website. Look for Attend Anywhere or Video Consultations or Clinics on the website home page.

You will have been given a date and time. On the day of the appointment, you will need to go online to the hospital website or enter a link you have been sent in your appointment confirmation.

Make sure you allow enough time to prepare where you want to sit, whether you want to use a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone and that it’s all working properly.

Attend Anywhere will guide you through different checks to make sure you will have a good online connection for your appointment.

You will enter a virtual waiting room and the specialist will join you.

Remember, this is a formal appointment, you will have an allocated amount of time so make sure you are available to talk to the specialist.


What can you expect if you have to go to the hospital for your appointment?

Your appointment may be at your main hospital or at another local hospital.

Please be assured that all hospitals are carrying out regular safety checks and cleaning schedules to ensure the safety of all our patients and staff.

It is important to attend your appointment to minimise any additional risk to your health that a delay could cause.


What if you have an appointment at the hospital and you become unwell?

It is important we keep you and NHS staff safe and so you should not attend the hospital without contacting them, if you are feeling unwell or have tested positive for Covid-19


What if you cancel your appointment?

Your GP believes your symptoms need to be investigated as soon as possible, so it is important you are flexible when arranging this appointment.

You should make every effort to attend the first appointment you are given.

Whether your appointment is by telephone, online or at the hospital, if you cannot make it please contact the hospital well in advance so an alternative can be arranged for you and this time slot can be given to someone else.


What if you need help to go to the hospital?

If you cannot drive or arrange your own transport, or public transport is limited, you may be able to use the patient ambulance transport service.

Please speak to the receptionist at your GP practice as soon as possible if this needs to be arranged.


Can someone come with me?

Please check with the hospital to see if you can take someone else with you.

How should you prepare for your appointment?

You may find it useful to write down in advance any questions you want to ask during your appointment and have them with you to refer to.

The specialist will give you a lot of information, have pen and paper ready to write things down. If you think you will find it difficult to take it all in, especially if it is a telephone or online appointment, get someone in your household to write things down for you.

If your appointment is at the hospital, remember you may be able to take one other person with you but please check with the hospital first and please remember to take your appointment letter too.


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