How long can I expect to wait for a referral?

Hi, my GP has agreed to refer me to an endo over a week ago but I have not heard back about it. I assumed because I have high thyroid antibodies, fluctuating TSH, hypo/hyper symptoms and that I'm currently taking Levothyroxine I would hear back fairly quickly.

Also the exact words my GP said at the appointment were: "at any rate, regardless of test results, I will put you forward for an endocrinologist referral." I could be seen at 1 of 3 different hospitals, I don't know how long I should be waiting for something. At the appointment my GP asked me if I still lived at the address they have on my records. Does that mean I should be expecting a letter from one of the hospitals about a referral? This is all so new to me, I don't know what I should be expecting and I want to get some sort of confirmation as to what is going on with me.

Can anyone advise? Thanks!!

Jo xxx

38 Replies

  • Sometimes you can wait a few weeks. I think they have a maximum time when we receive an appointment.

  • Hi Shaws, thanks for your answer.

    I didn't know how long I would have to wait for a letter so any idea of a date for my first appointment is fine with me.

    Jo xxx

  • Hi jo853...... Would it be worth a call to your surgery to ask if they would mind confirming what the procedure is when you are referred to see an endocrinologist as you aren't sure? Does the letter come from the hospital or from the surgery?

    I was recently referred myself and had to wait for the letter from my Surgery and then phone the hospital and make the appointment myself.There were clear instructions on the letter.

    It may be different for you ,but a phone call may help to put your mind at rest.

  • Hi marfit, thanks for your answer.

    I'm seeing the GP this week about blood test results I have had done for thyroid antibodies - I know this result will come back high and I've been told that these results are due to come back to them Wednesday - possibly sooner depending on what they are. I'll ask at the appointment about this referral.


    Jo xxx

  • Hi Privately you make your own appointment for a weeks time and take the referral with you. NHS, you will not hear for ages. Phone the GP`s sec and check the letter has gone and to whom. Then phone consultants sec and say it is really urgent as feel terrible, if you do!

    Best wishes,


  • Hi Jackie, thanks for your answer.

    Unfortunately this is through the NHS. I'll be seeing the GP this week due to blood test results I have had done for thyroid antibodies which I know for a fact will come back high as they did last time.

    Should I be calling the practice's secretary or the secretary at the endo department?


    Jo xxx

  • Hi First phone GP`s sec. and ask if the letter has been sent and to whom, ie which Endo. Then phone that Endo`s sec, ask for her e mail, and send an e mail to that sec. with a letter on it to the Endo, putting your case to be seen soon. Secs are not good with medical messages. That will be sent straight to the Endo and if a good case, should make a lot of difference. ,bad time of the year to do it though, lots of consultants are off for about 3 weeks over Christmas. Not a good time to be ill, even worse, if in hospital!

    Good luck with it,


  • Hi Jackie, no I didn't think secretaries were good with medical messages. I called 2 hospitals to ask if I could see them despite my GP refusing to do anything more for me. Neither returned my calls despite me leaving my name and number. Was very frustrated.

    Hopefully there's a letter waiting for me when I get back home on Saturday. Fingers crossed.


    Jo xxx

  • Hi Everything stops for Christmas any way. Most consultants seem to have about 3 weeks off. I would still phone the secs and ask for their email address. it is quite usual to do that. Then e mail a letter on the e mail to the sec, specifically to the named consultants.Just a normal letter but send it by e mail via the sec. It does work I often do that.They then send it on by e mails to the consultant.


  • Ok Jackie, thanks for your help.

    Jo xxx

  • Hi, I asked my doctor to refer me to an Endo about 4 weeks ago, the doctors confirmed they had referred me a couple of days later, I havent heard anything from the hospital so I rang the Endo's secretary yesterday and guess what, they said they are only just dealing with my referral and I should get an appt in the new year, I bet it's February!!

  • Hi Countrygirl

    Fingers crossed that you get your appointment soon and good luck when you go! Thanks for your answer. :)

    Jo xxx

  • My son was referred in August First appt was early Nov. =-O

  • Hi Sarah, wow!! I bet that was a surprise! It would just be a nice Christmas present for me to get some idea of even a date. I didn't realise people have to wait so long to get seen, but then again that's NHS I guess. :(


    Jo xxx

  • After seeing the endo it took 2 weeks to wait for a synacthen test - tests response of adrenals to ACTH injection so not very accurate compared to a saliva test - still waiting for those results about 2 weeks ago!

    :-( slow process I'm afraid.

    S XxX

  • Yes I imagine the actual waiting time depends depends on how busy the department is and your actual problem, some may not actually deal with your particular problem so some queues may be longer than others. I should check that you are in the system ie ask at the doctors if the request has been sent off. If it's yes then ask there advice as to how long it takes to be offered the appointment. If they don't know ask if they have any idea which hospital you have been referred to and take it from there

  • Hi Silverfox, thanks for your answer.

    I may be seeing my GP this week as I have had bloods done for thyroid antibodies, autoimmune profile, plasma viscosity, coeliac, folates, ferritin, vitamin D and vitamin B12. I don't hold very high hopes that they have come back normal simply because I've not been tested for the majority of them before. I'll ask as soon as I have an appointment with her.


    Jo xxx

  • After my first app with the endo he said I will see you in 3 months app will be posted to you. When it came instead of 3 it's 7 my app is April that's a long 3 months even longer when I'm feeling so ill. Hope you get your app soon

  • Hi Lynn!

    Wow - 3 months? To me that sounds like an even longer time than when I waited for my operation on my hip tendon. I had the letter in December 2010 and the operation was in June! Even a date would help because then I would know when to get ready for it. I was hoping to get some progress before Christmas. I might well be disappointed.


    Jo xxx

  • Had my first endo app who said blood tests plus us scan synacthen test and he wanted to see me in three months, when my next app came for my follow up app it's April 2014, so not 3 but 7 months. I'm being sent to a rhumi abnormal blood results. Not had results of us scan yet. Synacthen test adequate whatever that means!!!

  • Hi I am also waiting for a first appt to see an endo about an overactive thyroid .My gp said in uk the maximum waiting time for a first appt is 8 weeks.

  • Hi P1pp1ns, that helps. Thanks for your answer.

    I think it's a disgusting amount of time to wait personally. I'm wondering if the waiting time would shorten going by if my bloods come back abnormal.

    Jo xxx

  • Hi I dont think blood tests would make much difference as mine are very abnormal and I still got to wait been 2 weeks up to now

  • My first appointment doesn't even have a date ..just that I am in the queue the letter from hospital said and.......... that took 6 weeks

  • nhs guidelines say up to 18 weeks for referral that is the length it says on my appointment letters, i have also done a request to see an endo at different hospital threw my gp and appointment was for 9 weeks time when it came threw. hope that helps

  • Hi, yes that helps.

    18 weeks? Wow. :o I didn't think it'd be that long! It would've been great if I were able to know a date for my first appointment but it looks like I'll know after Christmas. I was hoping I would know before Christmas to get this all sorted. :(


    Jo xxx

  • Hi, The best way to do arrange the appointment is via 'Book and Choose'. Your GP sends the referral letter and then you are able to book your own appointment online or by phone. You can see the waiting times when you book, and there will be different clinics with different times. It should all be pretty quick. I'd ask to speak to your GP by phone and ask if you can have this. Good luck!

  • Hi, I have not received the letter yet so I take it the "Book and Choose" system would be available to me when I receive this letter. I guess I should have asked the GP at the time but the appointment with her had overran by 10 minutes as she was explaining everything to me. I will perhaps be seeing her again sometime this week as I'm waiting on the bloods.


    Jo xxx

  • Hi Jo

    If you get a chance, speak to her soon about Book and Choose. Everyone is allowed to do this under the NHS. It actually makes it easier for the GP. The surgery should give you the details of how to do this, the referral letter goes to the specialist. I just organised my referral this way. My appointment for endo is on the 6th January, so it will take just over 1 month from the GP appointment.

    All the very best, Elaine xx

  • My gp told me my appointment not urgent as your normal so could take a year to be seen ....yes my gp is fantastic .............

  • Ok Elaine, thanks. This helps a lot. Jo xxx

  • Hi Elaine, thanks. This has helped a lot. I did use Book and Choose before for an orthopaedic appointment so it would be good if I could have this. Jo xxx

  • Can't remember exact details but got my appointment fairly quickly then it was brought forward but I got the chap that wasn't very popular-not by choice-I wasn't asked!

  • Oh dear, bad luck! :o Jo xxx

  • Unless it is an urgent appointment, which is done under the two week rule (ie suspected cancer), it can take upto a month before you hear from them and then it can take upto 18 weeks to be seen depending on waiting lists in your area. It took 3 weeks before I was sent my choose and book letter, although the 18 week maximum is taken from the date it was first put into the system and not when I received it.

    I have a bit of a problem in that they never update the choose and book and it has been saying there are no appointments available for weeks now. looks like they dont ever add any at my local hospital. So backwards here they probably dont know how to... sigh

  • Hi susy, well I very much doubt I have cancer so I don't think I would be classed as urgent. You've definitely cleared up how long it takes for each thing like hearing from them etc., so thank you for explaining that to me.

    That's terrible that there are no appointments for weeks through Choose and Book where your hospital is. I hope you don't end up waiting too long. Good luck.

    Jo xxx

  • Hi jo853 I have now got my appt through for jan 16 so I will have waited 8 weeks but I suppose it depends on where you live, Have you heard anything about your appt yet .Take care kim

  • Hi p1pp1ns, no I haven't heard anything yet. I spoke to the practice manager on the 12th and she said the letter to the hospital regarding my referral was sent around te 8th or 9th December - a week after the GP had seen me! I'm out of town until Saturday so I may have a letter waiting for me.

    Well done on getting your appointment and getting one that's not too far away. Hopefully I won't have to wait much longer.

    Thanks and good luck at your appointment - it's a nice thing to get at Christmas as well because over the festive period you won't have to worry about when you'll be seen.

    Jo xxx

You may also like...