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When did my 18 weeks start?

Hi everyone,

Wondering if anyone can help me work out when my 18 weeks started re my referal to treatment.

I initially visited my gp in March who referred me to a consultant at my local hospital. I was sent for a mri and the consultant referred my to another specialist at a diffent hospital who specialises in my problem.

I eventually met him last week and he advised me that i need an operation. I have emailed his secretary to enquire about waiting times and she has told me theyeare fully booked for the rest of this year and the beginning of next year. So it looks likely that from initial gp visit to the operation to fix me will be around a year.

Does the 18 week referral to treatment standard apply to me? If so, when did my 18 weeks begin; at my initial gp referal, or when the first consultant referred me on to the second?

Hope that makes sense. I would usually be very patient and have a lot of respect for our fabulous NHS, but I'm in pain constantly, can't walk very far and certainly cant enjoy the summer holidays with my children.

9 Replies

Hi clairemac, the 18 week rule is to do with start of treatment, so once your GP refers you you should be seen with in 18 weeks and treated, however if you get referred on as in your case the eighteen week rule can be paused I believe. However as it has now been decided an operation is best then it should be done within 18 weeks,dependent of course on how busy the surgeon of choice is. As you have found the re-referral procedure can lengthen the time it takes to eventually receive the correct treatment. This info can be found on line at NICE or NHS CHoices, if you want extra time to read. If you cancel an appointment too you can end up waiting another 18 weeks, just a tip from myself :) so if you have holidays ect tell them as soon as possible. I also believe if they cancel they must give you a new date within 28days. And they are onl;y allowed to cancel an OP once. Hope this helps


Thank you for taking the time to reply Katie



Try this nhs.uk/choiceintheNHS/Right...

Clock starts when hospital gets the referral from GP


The right to start treatment within 18 weeks does not apply:

•if you choose to wait longer

•if delaying the start of your treatment is in your best clinical interests, for example where stopping smoking or losing weight is likely to improve the outcome of the treatment

•if it is clinically appropriate for your condition to be actively monitored in secondary care without clinical intervention or diagnostic procedures at that stage

•if you fail to attend appointments that you had chosen from a set of reasonable options, or

•if the treatment is no longer necessary

could bullet 3 above apply to you?

If not contact your CCG Clinical Commissioning Group or PALS at the Hospital for an explanation.



Thank you NHSathiest. I don't think bullet three would apply as I have been diagnosed and told what should happen. I will contact my local PALS and see I they can help.Thanks again


Hi it will be interesting to hear how this one is resolved. In my experience i have had 2 ops cancelled and am waiting for an operation 2 years down the line. Asked for Pals involvment and have not heard anything back and now sent CEO a letter and will hopefully hear something back soon. It is very disturbing when you have a debillating condition and are constantly battling for treatment as well with the very people that you believe should be trying to help you. I'm not sure where you go when you don't receive replies from the hospital complaints process. Good luck and let me know how this 18 week plan really goes...


Sorry to hear about your situation Sharon!

Would you believe I've actually had my op now! I sent my consultant's secretary an email on Monday saying that I had been advised to contact them and ask what my legal rights were in relation to the 18 week RTT law. I said it had been suggested to me that I was within my rights to ask to be treated in a different (and possibly private) hospital.

On Tuesday I received an email saying they had had someone cancel their op and could I go in on Thursday!

I hope you hear something soon! If you can, send emails and phone people directly. Start making a nuisance of yourself..... It worked for me.


Hi I am glad you have now had your op but believe me i have made numerous phone calls every step of the way but to no avail. It seems that some hospitals may comply to the guidelines but other hopsitals are happy to pay the fines for not meeting the guidlelines. I have gone down the formal complaint route as i have now been waiting 2 years from my referral date, without falling into any of the exclusions..... Hope you are now on the mend. I didn't even have a formal leter cancelling the operation but had 2 phone calls but all has been confirmed by email so they can't go back on that.


I have had my op cancelled for the 7th time and my new date is October 8th this will mean I have been waiting 52weeks. I made a formal complaint to PALS who said I would have a reply within 25 working days, I received it after 40 working days ,don't really know why I bothered. Result was : I didn't turn up for 2 of the dates which is funny because I have the cancellation letters! The next the consultant was on annual leave then on pre booked sick leave, surely these dates would have been blocked out on his calendar? but no someone forgot both times. What annoys me more is 2years ago I had a massive heart attack and the surgeons saved my life(to which I will always be grateful) but I now have to wait for this op which I am told can get pretty serious at any time. Never mind lets see what excuse October 8th brings.


Hi i am glad you have been given another date and good luck i hope it goes as planned. Also glad you have advised what PALS did because as far as i can see this seems to be an ongoing issue and nothing seems to happen. I have also gone down the formal complaint after 2 years from my referral date route but have been advised that nothing will actually happen. It seems we have all these guidlelines in the NHS constitution but no one at the hospitals are actually accountable/responsible or really care what state patients are left in. Good luck again for October. I guess the next step is the Ombudsman but have also been informed that it could then take 6 months to be resolved!!!


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