Frequently asked questions by outpatients

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


Can the hospital provide an interpreter?

The Trust uses Language Line to provide both telephone and face-to-face interpreting services for patients, including British Sign Language. The majority of consultations can be carried out using the telephone service via speakerphone, available across the Trust in all locations 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Face-to-face interpreters may be booked in advance upon request for specific types of consultations where a telephone would not be appropriate, such as maternity and children’s services. Where possible we will provide same sex face-to-face interpreters if requested. Please do let us know if you have any specific needs that we can help with.

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 let us know that you have arrived for your appointment by using our check-in kiosks in your outpatient clinic. It’s quick and easy to do, and you can also update your address or phone number if needed. You can select your language and adjust the size of the text on screen. Our reception staff are also there to help if you have any queries.

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 I have to wait to be seen?

Please ensure you arrive in good time for your appointment and allow at least two hours in the clinic. While every effort is made to keep the clinics running to time, we cannot always control this due to individual patient requirements. Additionally, you may require X-rays or blood tests and we will try to accommodate these on the same day to save you having to attend twice.

We apologise that you may experience some additional waiting time and are happy to reschedule tests to another time if this is more convenient to you. Please note: if an X-ray slot has not been booked for you in advance, then you will be seen as soon as possible but we do give priority to our patients on the wards and those who have a booked appointment.

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?

University Hospital Lewisham 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.

Is there help with travel health costs?

Information about who can apply for a refund for bus fares or car mileage to appointments is available on our getting here page