One reason to consider private medical treatment; NHS Waiting Times


When people look to private treatment whether self-funded or via a private medical insurance policy it is often the time it takes for an NHS referral to come through that is one of the deciding factors. Non urgent referrals may not be life threatening to the patient but the medical condition itself could present difficulties to them in living their life in a normal way.

The waiting time to see a specialist consultant privately is normally within a few days of your referral. Many of the consultants work in more than one private facility and therefore you should be able to arrange an appointment quickly at a time and medical facility that suits you.

Waiting times for the NHS can vary from hospital to hospital and you can check online to obtain a guideline of the waiting times at hospitals in your area for clarification.  Below we have provided you the current waiting times from the NHS and confirmation of your entitlement should your NHS operation is cancelled at the last minute.

*Maximum waiting times for non-urgent referrals

The maximum waiting time for non-urgent consultant-led treatments is 18 weeks from the day your appointment is booked through the NHS e-Referral Service, or when the hospital or service receives your referral letter.

However, your right to an 18-week waiting time does not apply if:

  • you choose to wait longer
  • 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
  • it is clinically appropriate for your condition to be actively monitored in secondary care without clinical intervention or diagnostic procedures at that stage
  • you fail to attend appointments that you had chosen from a set of reasonable options
  • the treatment is no longer necessary

*What happens if your operation is cancelled at the last minute?

If the hospital or service cancels your operation at the last minute (on or after the day of admission) and for non-clinical reasons, they should offer another binding date within 28 days or fund your treatment at a date and hospital of your choice.

If you’re not offered an appointment within 28 days, you should complain to your local CCG using the NHS complaints procedure.

If your operation is cancelled before the day of admission, the hospital or service is not obliged to provide an alternative option within 28 days.

However, your right to start consultant-led treatment within a maximum waiting time still stands. If cancelling your appointment results in you having to wait longer, you have the right to ask the hospital or CCG to move you to a different provider.

*Information sourced from

Our business directory holds details of many specialist consultants, private hospitals and diagnosis centres which can help you to source the private specialists able to help you diagnose and treat your medical condition. You can also discuss your medical condition or treatment path within our topical forums where you can communicate with others who may be in a similar situation.