Frequently asked questions by outpatients

Below you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions.


Can the hospital provide an interpreter?

We can provide interpreters in many international languages as well as British Sign Language, Lip Speakers and Tactile Sign Language for the deaf and deaf-blind.

With the help of Language Line, who provide interpreting services at our hospital, we have introduced a new telephone interpreting service for patients whose first language isn’t English. Some 121 languages are spoken locally (there are 7,000 languages used world-wide) and the new service means staff no longer have to book an interpreter days in advance but they can now call Language Line and ask for the services of an interpreter immediately.  For patients this reduces anxiety and speeds up their appointment time.

The interpreting system uses a dual handset phone, which means both patient and doctor are involved and the phone does not need to be passed between them. It’s ideal for short consultations. For more complex appointments, we offer face-to-face interpreting services.

To ensure that we are able to provide an interpreter for your appointment, we will need to know your language/dialect at the time your appointment is booked. Please make sure that you tell the Appointments Department in plenty of time.

Are there patient changing areas?

There are no designated patient changing areas. All clinic rooms have curtained areas and patients will be asked to remove any necessary items of clothing behind these curtains.

The Clinic staff will not be responsible for any patient possessions or valuables and the patient is asked to be aware of this when attending clinic.

Are there toilets near the clinics?

Toilets, including toilets for wheelchair users, are located in all outpatient areas.

Find the nearest toilets on the hospital map

Can you use your mobile phone in the clinic?

The use of mobile phones may interfere with life support and imaging equipment and you may be asked to switch your phone off completely. Notices are displayed in areas where this may apply.

In general, we would prefer you not to use your phone while in the outpatient areas as it can be annoying for other patients waiting. If you need to keep your mobile phone on while in the clinic please put it on 'silent' or 'vibrate'.

Can you buy food and drink at the hospitals?

University Hospital Lewisham welcomes patients and visitors to the Ravensbourne Restaurant on the first floor of the Green Zone. The Restaurant offers a range of freshly cooked food daily together with a self-selection salad bar. In addition, a 'while you wait' service prepares sandwiches and baguettes with your choice of filling.

There is also a shop and café selling a range of light hot or cold snacks in main reception, and an additional café located in the Riverside Building.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital has a restaurant on the ground floor and a cafe in main reception. 

Where do you report to when you arrive at the clinic?

Please make sure you report to reception in your clinic to let them know you have arrived.

Is there anything you have to do before your appointment?

Your appointment letter should tell you if you need to do anything before the appointment (e.g. not eat or drink). If you have any queries, please ring the number on the top of your appointment letter.

It is a good idea to write down any questions you want to ask during your appointment before you get to the hospital. It can also be helpful to bring a pen and some paper so you can write down what you are told as it can sometimes be difficult to remember once you leave the clinic.

Do you have to bring anything with you?

Your appointment letter should tell you if you need to bring anything with you. If you have any queries, please ring the number at the top of your appointment letter. It is also helpful to bring any reading glasses and an up-to-date list of medication.

Can you bring someone with you?

Yes. Visiting hospital can be an anxious time and it can help to have a trusted friend or relative or carer with you for help and support during the appointment.

Will you have to wait to be seen?

Please make sure you arrive in time for your appointment and allow at least 2 hours for your appointment time. Although we try to make sure you wait no longer than 30 minutes to be seen you may need x-rays or other tests and we will try to arrange these on the same day. This means that you might have to wait some time. If this is not convenient it might be possible to arrange for tests to be carried out on another day.

Please note: If an x-ray slot has not been booked in advance for you by the clinic you will be seen in x-ray as soon as possible but priority will be given to in-patients and those who have booked appointments.

What causes clinic delays?

There may be delays if:

  • A doctor or nurse has been held up in clinic or on one of the wards with a patient
  • Another patient has needed to be seen for longer than planned
  • Other patients need to be seen urgently

If this happens, clinic staff should explain why there is a delay.

If you arrive earlier than your appointment time this does not mean you will be seen any earlier. Patients are usually seen in order of their appointments. There is also limited seating space for patients to wait in the clinic. Please help the clinic by arriving for your appointment on time but not too early.

Can you refuse to be seen by medical students during your appointment?

Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust helps to train many healthcare professionals who need practical experience in the treatment and care of patients. We therefore hope you will be happy to allow students to learn from your treatment by being involved in your care.

However, if you do not wish students to be involved at any stage then you have every right to say so - please just tell the doctor or nurse. Your care will not be affected in any way by your decision. Students are always supervised.

Can you ask for a doctor of the same sex?

Yes, you may ask to be seen by a doctor of the same sex. However, as not all specialities have doctors of the same gender we may not be able to comply with your request.