Patient FAQs

Below you can find some information that we hope is helpful while you are waiting for your surgery.  If you have any specific questions you should contact your Consultant surgeon team or GP.

Section 1: Outpatient appointments and hospital visits

My outpatient appointment has changed to a virtual clinic – what does this mean?

Most hospital Trusts have changed the way they deliver outpatient appointments and as a result, you may be invited to join a virtual clinic – meaning your appointment will take place over the phone or via a video calling service (e.g. Skype) – rather than face-to-face.

If your appointment is suitable for a virtual clinic, you will be contacted by your hospital team beforehand to arrange this. If you have any questions or concerns with these arrangement, please ensure you voice them with the hospital team at this time. See our section below on Virtual Clinics for further information.

Can I visit a relative on a T&O ward?

The latest Government advice is that the public should limit visits to patients, and to consider other ways of keeping in touch such as phone calls. Please check your local hospital website to see what their specific advice is, and what restrictions there are on visitors to certain wards.

You should avoid visiting a hospital if you have flu or cold like symptoms.

Section 2: How to cancel an appointment if you are ill

I am feeling unwell/self-isolating/I have been diagnosed with coronavirus, how do I cancel an appointment or a surgery?

Your appointment letter should include contact details for cancelling any appointment. Please try to contact the relevant teams in advance where possible, to minimise any disruption. Ensure you let the team know the reason for cancellation so that your appointment(s) can be rebooked promptly.

Section 3: Cancellations to surgery and other orthopaedic appointments

What will happen if my elective (planned) surgery is cancelled?

You may find that your planned surgery is cancelled at short notice. You should be informed of any changes to your surgery by your hospital. We understand that this may be disappointing, especially if you have been waiting a significant time for surgery. If you have any questions about the rescheduling of your surgery please contact the team on your appointment letter.

What will happen if my surgery follow-up appointment is cancelled?

If your follow-up appointment has been cancelled and you have concerns following surgery, you should contact your consultant team in the first instance for guidance.

Some follow-up appointments will also be changed to ‘virtual follow-up’. See our section below on Virtual Clinics for more information.

I have other health conditions and am worried about going into hospital for my operation.

If you have an existing medical condition and are concerned about going to hospital for your appointment or surgery, let the appointments team know. Your concerns should be addressed by the pre-admission team who will facilitate your admission. Some assessments will also be done virtually to reduce the number of times you have to attend the hospital

Will having orthopaedic surgery have an impact on my immune system?

Any surgery and recovery can impact the immune system, though usually not significantly.

Section 4: Virtual clinics

You may be asked to attend a virtual clinic rather than a face-to-face clinic. It would be good to prepare in advance anything in particular you would like to highlight to your Consultant and any particular questions you would like to ask. As an aid, you could note down:

  • How are you feeling
  • How your condition is affecting you
  • Any new health problems that have occurred since your last appointment

Below is a video from the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital which gives you an example of how a virtual clinic can be run and how to prepare. All virtual clinics will vary across Trusts and by hospital and may be run on different systems such as via video call from your smart phone or computer, or a normal telephone call, but the principles are largely the same.


When the appointment is set up, it should be explained to you:

  • What system will be used
  • Whether there is anything you need to do in advance, such as downloading an App for your phone or logging into a specific website

Healthcare providers aim to make it simple to hold these appointments. If you have any questions ask the reception or administration team at your hospital or clinic who can advise you, or if possible see if you have a friend or family member who has used the system before and can talk to you about how it worked. Many appointments now take place virtually and many people are new to this, so your clinician will understand this may be the first time you have attended an appointment in this way.

Section 5: Waiting lists

Can you give me some idea how patients are being prioritised for surgery and how long I may need to wait?

As services have resumed following the pandemic, there has been careful consideration of how patients should be prioritised and the details may differ from one unit to another based on local factors. Overall, a large focus of this is prioritisation of operations based on clinical urgency.

During the pandemic, surgery was continued only for the most urgent and emergency patients, such as those with major injuries, but many semi-urgent patients were not seen and so there is a backlog of these patients who have very time-critical conditions and whose care is being prioritised.

We realise it may be very frustrating and disappointing if you started the waiting list with an idea of how long the wait would be in your area, but now have much less of an idea about how long you may be waiting. If you have concerns, particularly if your pain and/or mobility are worsening please contact your local team and/or GP for advice regarding the likely wait time and whether any other options are available to help you whilst you wait.

We are working with national bodies and charities for musculoskeletal disease to ensure that orthopaedic patients get the care they need as quickly as is possible.


Section 6: If you are struggling

If you are struggling with your health (including both physical and mental health) while you wait for surgery, please consult your GP for advice. We appreciate that the current situation is frustrating for those waiting, and we are working with the NHS to implement their recovery plans to reduce the waiting list.

NHS advice to help with anxiety, low mood and mental health can be found here.

Section 7: Robot-assisted hip and knee arthroplasty

Download A Patient's Guide to Robot-Assisted Hip and Knee Arthroplasty which answers questions relating to knee and hip replacements using this technology.

Cover from Patient's Guide to Robot-Assisted Hip and Knee Arthroplasty.jpg


If there is anything else you think this page should cover to help patients at this time, email us with your suggestions at [email protected].