We welcome you on your visit as an outpatient to Northampton General Hospital and we hope your time with us to goes as smoothly as possible. This section contains important information to prepare you for your appointment including:
Your first appointment and letter
You will be sent, or may have already received an appointment letter, detailing arrangements for your appointment with a specialist in an outpatient clinic.
In the letter you will find details of:
- The date and time of your appointment
- The location of your appointment
- The name of the specialist/team responsible for your care
- A telephone number for you to ring if you need to cancel or change your appointment, or if you require any other help or advice
Please let us know as soon as possible if you need to cancel or change your appointment.
Things to bring with you
Your appointment letter
- Any medicines or tablets you are taking (if possible please bring these in their original containers)
- Any samples asked for in your appointment letter
- Money for prescriptions or an exemption certificate
- A list questions you want to ask.
Cancelling your appointment
If for any reason you are not able to keep your appointment, please tell us as soon as possible by calling the number on your letter, so that we can give your appointment to another patient.
If you are unsure where your appointment is within the hospital, please ask:
- at main reception (Cliftonville entrance)
- one of our volunteer guides, or
- any member of staff
At the clinic
When you arrive, please book in with the clinic receptionist. Please help us by arriving for your appointment on time. It is helpful if you remember to bring your appointment letter with you so that the receptionist can locate your information quickly. The receptionist may ask you a number of questions to make sure that our records are up to date, including:
- Your address including the full postcode.
- Your day-time and evening telephone numbers.
- Your GP’s name and address.
- Your next of kin’s name and address your NHS number.
- Specimens (if requested).
After reporting to the clinic reception you will be asked to take a seat in the waiting area. As there may be limited seating and space here, we do request that you only bring one relative or friend with you to the clinic. Exceptions are made for patients with young children.
The clinic nurse will let you know when the doctor is ready to see you. The nurse may also carry out some provisional tests, such as testing your urine or measuring your blood pressure. Doctors, nurses, therapists and clerical staff all work within the outpatient areas and can be identified by their security badges.
During your first outpatient visit, please expect to be at the hospital for at least two hours, as you may need to have various tests and x-rays. We will try not to keep you for more than 30 minutes after your appointment time.
Sometimes appointments are delayed. This is usually for a good reason, but clinic staff should always tell you why a delay has occurred. Arriving early for your appointment does not mean we will see you earlier.
We train healthcare professionals at Northampton General Hospital. So that our students get practical experience, we allow them to get involved in the treatment and care of patients.
Please tell the clinic nurse if you don’t want students to be involved in your care. Your care will not be affected in any way by your decision.
Consenting to treatment
We want to make sure that you fully understand your condition, the treatment options available and the procedure/treatment you are about to have. Before you receive any treatment, the doctor will explain what he or she is recommending and will answer any questions you may have. This explanation should involve the risks, benefits and any alternatives. Following this explanation you may be asked to sign a consent form. You are able to refuse treatment at any time.
Staff should make sure you are fully involved in your care and understand the treatment plan being proposed. It is important to ask questions if you are unsure about anything.
Your personal information
When you come to hospital, we ask you for information to help with your care. We keep this information on file, in case you need to be treated again in the future. The information remains confidential.
You have the right to access your health records. Should you require access, please write to the Health Records Manager, Northampton General Hospital, Cliftonville, Northampton NN1 5BD.
Unless you tell your NGH consultant otherwise, you will automatically receive a copy of letters written by one health professional to another about you. We believe that sharing these letters will help improve communications between you and your health professionals.
What do we mean by a letter?
A letter includes communications between health professionals including GPs, hospital doctors, nurses and therapists. This may include:
- letters to GPs and other community based health professionals
- details of an outpatient consultation
- letters from NHS health professionals to other agencies such as social services or housing
All the information in these letters should already have been discussed with you. However, it is important to remember that these letters provide other health professionals with clinical information about your treatment and care. Therefore, you may find that some of the language includes technical terms.
Who can I talk to if I have questions about a letter I receive?
Each letter will be written by a member of your consultant's team. If you wish to discuss the contents of a letter please contact the consultant's secretary via the Trust switchboard.
We want to ensure that our hospital is a safe, healthy and pleasant place for all patients, staff and visitors. Smoking is not permitted anywhere on our site – either inside or outside buildings or in open areas such as car parks. We ask all patients, visitors and staff to refrain from smoking whilst on the hospital site.
Please go back to the clinic reception desk before you leave the hospital.
If you need more tests
After some appointments you might need more tests or procedures. If you do, you might need to arrange another appointment. The receptionist will tell you how to arrange a time that is convenient for you.
If you need to see the doctor again
We will give you another appointment before you leave the hospital. Sometimes we might need to change an appointment. We will tell you in advance if this happens with your appointment.
Please notify the hospital at the earliest opportunity if you change your address, telephone number or GP.
If you don't need to come back to the clinic
Please tell the receptionist if the doctor tells you that don’t need to come back to the clinic, or you need to come into hospital as an inpatient.
If you need tablets or medicines
You may be prescribed tablets or medicines following your consultation.
If these need to be started straight away you will be given a prescription. Green prescriptions (that look like ones from your GP) should be taken to a community pharmacy (chemist). White prescriptions can only be dispensed by the hospital pharmacy. This is located centrally on Hospital Street, and is open from 9.00am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday and 10.00am - 1.00 pm on Saturdays.
If medicines don't need to be started straight away, the hospital doctor will write to your GP with advice. Your GP will not be able to give you a prescription straight away - they usually ask for at least two working days notice.
Prescription charges apply to hospital prescriptions in the same way as those from your GP.
Waiting time in Pharmacy. The hospital pharmacy provides medicines for in-patients, out-patients, day-patients and to some other local hospitals and hospices. The workload is unpredictable and sometimes prescriptions need to be clarified with doctors. There is usually a wait; this could be up to an hour. Pharmacy staff will keep you informed and you should ask them any questions about your medicines if you are unsure or need more information.