NHS Surgical Appointments questions

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 James Malloch 02 Jul 2024

I was recently referred for a consultation for a minor surgery at a Private hospital (via the NHS) and was then offered the surgery. They said the wait would be around 8 months, which was fine.

I then got a letter saying it would be later this month, but I couldn't make that date so they cancelled and it was rearranged for August instead - great. 

However in the pre-surgery guidance it says that I would likely need up to 3 weeks off work (a lot more than they originally mentioned and difficult with my current contracted work) for the surgery to heal. Also that it might take longer (up to 8 weeks) depending on various factors/infection. 

I'm struggling to get in touch with the hospital to ask about the specifics and whether the recovery time is realistic or just in there as a worst-case. Three weeks would be hard to take off work around the timing of the surgery, and we have a young baby and given how she is at the moment, if I couldn't help properly for that long it would make things quite difficult at home - especially if the lack of sleep impacted my recovery.

So a few questions I was hoping someone might have some experience of...

1) Other than just googling, is there any points of contact in the NHS for discussing things ahead of a surgery? I guess my GP would only really have access to the general guidance which I can read online. 

I have the surgeon's name now so maybe going via his secretary via email would be best (if that is a possible route). 

2) What happens if I keep saying I can't make the date offered until it gets to a better time when not exhausted? Would it keep getting pushed back or would it eventually get cancelled?

I'm grateful that it has all moved so quickly, but the timing couldn't really be worse. A young teething baby, generally knackered and it would probably mean cancelling my first holiday of the year too (which is very much needed after a pretty crappy year).

It's not anything that needs doing urgently (could be this year, could be in 5 years) so I'm tempted to cancel it to avoid messing anyone around and try for a new referral next year, but it would be good to get a bit more information on how the system works before making a decision. 

Any advice would be appreciated. 

 Abr 02 Jul 2024
In reply to James Malloch:

I work in the NHS…not surgical though. I’d say it’s reasonable to contact the secretary and ask the question….in effect you are asking for the surgeons opinion on likely recovery time based on his experience. It may be a bit of time before you hear back… wishes.

OP James Malloch 02 Jul 2024
In reply to Abr:

Thank you - that's really useful. I'll try and get their contact details from the main reception. 

The surgeon did my original referral and I'm certain they said a significantly shorter time (and definitely a much longer wait). I'd not have gone ahead right now if I knew it would be so soon and with such a time off work - I'm self employed and committed to quite a bit of work which can't be re-arranged for this summer.

I'm lucky to have got something so quickly, but it's unfortunately a lot faster than I expected/planned for.

 Ridge 02 Jul 2024
In reply to James Malloch:

Just bear in mind if you refuse the earlier surgery you'll most likely be bumped right to the bottom of the waiting list.

Post edited at 17:47
 StuDoig 02 Jul 2024
In reply to James Malloch:

I've a buddy in a very similar situation ATM and he contacted the hospital and the surgeon was happy to discuss various aspects, Inc likely recovery, likelihood of longer term issues, pre op preparatory etc with him.  Definitely worth arranging a call with them.


In reply to James Malloch:

NHS, not surgical though.

Definitely contact the secretary and arrange to discuss it with the surgeon.

I certainly would not skimp on recovery times. We all respond differently to the same surgery, three to eight weeks seems a reasonable estimate of how long it could take.  It's an estimate, not an exact prediction. Whilst the surgery is routine and non-emergency for the surgical team, routine surgery is still a lot for your body to go through.  If you cannot fit the recovery times the surgeon discusses with you in with your life, I would recommend delaying it to a time that suits rather than cutting short the recovery.

I am pretty certain that if you reject the date offered you go somewhere towards the back of the queue and I know you won't want to hear that!

 Dax H 03 Jul 2024
In reply to James Malloch:

You canceled onec and are thinking of cancelling again. 

I would definitely put you at the bottom of the list. 

My advice is just get it done, there will never be a good time so you might as well go for it. 

As others have said, call the surgeon's secretary for advice. If that doesn't work and you have a helpful GP, they may be able to email your surgeon directly (not quite the same, but mine got in touch with my neurologist for some advice for me - whether and how quickly they reply is anyone's guess). But I'd try to phrase it like you want medical advice rather than thinking of deferring it again (while I totally sympathise - you wait months for things like this then they have a knack of coming at exactly the wrong time!). 

 mountainbagger 04 Jul 2024
In reply to James Malloch:

I've successfully discussed things with the surgeon by emailing their secretary. Easier questions were just answered by email, but I also had a couple of calls (this was during the peak of covid so in-person appointments were avoided if possible).

Responses were not usually same day but maybe within a couple of days.

Recovery depends on what you're having done and how well it goes. Surgeon can probably advise on what activity is ok and what you should avoid.

Good luck!

OP James Malloch 04 Jul 2024
In reply to Dax H:

I'm completely fine with going to the bottom of the list - it's a non-urgent procedure for something that I've already lived with for 12 years and is generally benign.

My issue is how short the wait seems to be and the fact that I wouldn't have gone ahead if he said the wait would be under a month with a longer recovery (which is how it has ended up). I planned on a fast recovery (what the surgeon implied) and a minimum 6 month wait.

I've now got plans which are very difficult to change (4 new people joining my team at work, for example, who I'll need to onboard and train) if the recovery time is indeed upwards of 3 weeks given in the guidance. 

I know that there's never a perfect time, but the planned date would definitely make things a lot harder than if it was in the autum/winter.

Anyway, I've got the secretaries number so I'll give her a call and try to get some more information - thanks for all of the responses. 

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