Frequently asked questions to help while you wait for treatment or a procedure

It is normal to have questions and concerns about your length of wait in the lead up to your procedure.

Below are a number of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about waiting times and preparation for your procedure.

You can also visit the national My Planned Care website to find more information about waiting times.

Click on a question below to reveal their answer.

  • What can I do to stay healthy while I wait?

    There are things you can do whilst you wait for your procedure to make you sure you are as healthy and strong as you can be. This will increase your chances of a better recovery. In the time leading up to your procedure, be sure to take good care of yourself by taking a few smart steps. This can help you avoid complications. Follow these simple tips to ensure the best possible outcome and prepare for a successful recovery.

    Take your medication Stick to healthy foods Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration Avoid constipation by drinking plenty of fluids and increasing the amount of fibre in your diet Reduce or, ideally, stop smoking Look after your mental health.

    Visit the "My mental health is suffering" FAQ above for links to mental health resources Exercise regularly to keep up your level of fitness, this will reduce complications when having any procedure.

    This gentle exercise booklet contains safe exercises anyone can do at home whilst they wait for their procedure. Click the button below to download the exercise guide: Gentle home exercises while you wait.

    Read more

  • How far down the waiting list am I?
    Our clinical teams are going through the waiting lists very carefully and patients will be seen depending on the state of their health. This means those with the greatest clinical need will be seen first. All waiting lists are being reviewed regularly so this means that your position on the waiting list may change depending on who else is referred so unfortunately we can’t say where you are on the list.
  • Can my care be transferred to another NHS organisation, with a shorter waiting list?
    Yes. We may be able to transfer your care to another NHS organisation and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals and James Paget University Hospitals are working closely to make sure that the waiting times are as even as possible between the three sites. We will ask you about transferring your operation if this is relevant to your type of care. Other hospital trusts may also have significant waiting lists for treatment (due to the impact of the pandemic) and not all services are available at all three hospitals, so this is not always possible.
  • I have received a letter that says my operation could be transferred to another hospital. Where would this be?
    Your operation could be carried out at James Paget University Hospitals, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals or the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which are all within Norfolk and Waveney.
  • My situation has deteriorated or I am in pain; can I be brought forward on the waiting list?

    If your symptoms get worse while you are on a waiting list, please contact your Consultant’s secretary directly (see telephone numbers below). They will arrange for your case to be reviewed and your Consultant will consider whether they can bring your operation forward.

    Please do not go to your GP if you want your hospital treatment to be brought forward.

    Contact your Consultants Secretary via the Hospital main switchboard:

    • James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: 01493 452452
    • Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: 01603 286286
    • The Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust: 01553 613613

    Please note that not all the secretaries work full time and you may be asked to leave an answerphone message and some will get back to you in 5 working days.

    If you are worried about your general health or another condition (not the one that you are waiting for an operation for) or your symptoms rapidly become worse, please contact your GP or NHS 111 for advice. If it is a life-threatening emergency, always call 999.

  • Can I have my operation at a private hospital?

    This will depend on your individual situation. However, private healthcare is not covered by the NHS and you would need to arrange this yourself and pay the associated costs. You can get private treatment from a consultant or specialist without being referred by your GP. But the British Medical Association (BMA) believes it is best practice for patients to be referred for specialist treatment by their GP because they know your medical history and can advise you if a referral is necessary.

    If you decide to receive treatment by a private healthcare provider for the condition for which you are on the waiting list, please contact your Consultant’s secretary directly (see telephone numbers above).

  • Do I need to be vaccinated against COVID to have my operation?
    No, a COVID vaccination is not required. You will be contacted before your admission to advise you what you need to do before you come into hospital. Whilst it is not required before having an operation, everyone that is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine is advised to get it when they can to give them the best protection against the virus.
  • Do I need to do anything before I come into hospital?
    We will contact you ahead of your admission, to advise you of what you need to do before you come to the hospital. We will also be asking you some questions, to ensure that we don’t need to take extra precautions with your care.
  • Is my treatment going to change / be worse because you’re trying to rush through patients?
    No. We will always maintain the same high and excellent standards of care you would ordinarily expect to receive. You will never be offered substandard or inappropriate treatment because of waiting list pressures.
  • If I contact the hospital on behalf of someone else, what information do I need to provide so that you are able to provide me with an update about the patient?
    We will need to get the consent from the patient by speaking to them, so we are able to gain their permission to disclose any information. If you hold legal power of attorney for health and wellbeing, we will need to see a copy of the relevant documentation.
  • What do I do if I want to make a formal complaint about my treatment?

    In the first instance, please contact the hospitals Complaints Departments:

    PALS and Complaints Team: James Paget University Hospitals, Lowestoft Road, Gorleston, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. NR31 6LA. Tel: 01493 453240. Email: complaints@jpaget.nhs.uk.

    Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital: Colney Lane, Norwich, NR4 7UY. Tel: 01603 289036. Email: palsandcomplaints@nnuh.nhs.uk.

    The PALS Department: The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gayton Road, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 4ET. Tel: 01553 613343. Email: pals @qehkl.nhs.uk.


    The team will be able to listen to your concerns and escalate these, as appropriate.

  • My mental health is suffering; I am depressed or more anxious as a result of my wait

    You will help yourself by looking after your physical and mental health, especially if you are waiting for surgery, as this can improve your recovery.

    It's important that you ask for help if you feel you need it. Please keep in touch with your GP or mental health professional if you are already under their care for depression or anxiety.

    If this is a new change, please contact our local Wellbeing service. You can refer yourself on line at www.wellbeingnands.co.uk or phone them on 0300 123 1503.

    There is also a range of mental health support available locally – please look at the website for more information:



  • General Information

    For more information about our hospitals, please visit our websites:

    If you have any further questions, please contact the PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service):

    James Paget University Hospitals: Tel: 01493 453240. Email: complaints@jpaget.nhs.uk.

    Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital: Tel: 01603 289036. Email:palsandcomplaints@nnuh.nhs.uk.

    The Queen Elizabeth Hospital: Tel: 01553 613343. Email: pals @qehkl.nhs.uk.