Can I book my own urgent referral breast screening appointment? Been waiting over 3 weeks. Please Help.

My doctor sent for an urgent referral for a breast screening due a lump in my breast 3 weeks ago. It is NHS policy that I should have had my appointment in three weeks. However, I still have not received a letter 3 weeks later, let alone had an appointment. I have been on the phone to the hospital and have realised it is the hospital's incompetency (Queen's Hospital, Essex) that has led to the wait being so long.

Is there any way I can ring around NHS hospitals to find a shorter waiting time and book my own appointment?

This is causing a lot of stress- I am only 19 and am very worried as there is a lot of breast cancer in my family.

3 Replies

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  • I am not sure about this, but can I suggest two possible ways? First, it is possible to self-refer to one of the two national cancer centres - Christies in Manchester and the Royal Marsden in London. Ringing them direct may get an earlier appointment. Second, if you can afford it, you can go private - your GP can arrange this - at a cost of about £200.

  • Hi, I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this, the waiting is the hardest part in my experience (breast cancer 3 years ago and currently also waiting for a referral for another lump to be assessed)

    You shouldn't have to go private, unless you want to, NHS guidelines state that urgent referrals should be seen within 2 weeks, a 19 year old would normally be seen as non-urgent, but with your family history you should have an urgent referral - please badger your GP and make sure they have you down as urgent.

    3 years ago my GP was able to arrange the hospital appointment, online I think, whilst I was in her office having just presented there and then with a lump. You can also ask to be seen anywhere, it doesn't have to be your local hospital, so please phone your GP and ask them to get you in somewhere ASAP, given the length of time you've already had to wait (which is unacceptable in itself) and the distress the delay is causing you.

    Also, please remember 9 out of 10 lumps are benign, and harmless fibroadenomas are also very common in young women. Please feel free to message me, and I hope we both get some good news very soon! x

  • First of all I'm sorry you are having this added stress and trust you have now been seen and that the lump was not serious. NHS policy is 2 week wait for an urgent referral. Your GP should be the one to help you. Make sure they did make a 2week referral, not a regular one but marked urgent. Explain to your GP / secretary that you haven't heard anything, and ask them to contact the hospital on your behalf. If you ask to be referred elsewhere you are back at the beginning of the 2 week wait for another hospital. The hospital should also have a PALS service/complaints office. Contact them to help you. I wouldn't suggest paying vast amounts of money to go private (I suspect you are too young for medical insurance, unless your parents have a policy you're covered on?) as chasing up your referral should have the desired effect. Finally if it turns out your referral did meet the 2week wait criteria but the hospital are failing to meet that, contact your local CCG and complain. They are responsible for monitoring the contract and getting a good service for their population. It won't speed your current situation but may help someone in the future that otherwise would suffer the same situation. Good luck.