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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Outpatient appointment guidance

In response to the national guidance issued regarding coronavirus (COVID-19), over the last few months, our staff have worked extremely hard to provide the majority of outpatient appointments virtually (not face-to-face), with telephone and video clinics for our patients.

All urgent face-to-face appointments, treatment and procedures have continued during this time.

We have transformed the way we provide care to ensure the safety of our patients and staff.

After a very challenging period for the hospital and local community, the number of patients requiring hospital treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19) has significantly decreased in recent months. We are now recommencing face-to-face appointments across all specialities that cannot be carried out virtually – a thorough checklist and assessment process is in place to identify which patients these appointments are suitable for.

Our teams will contact you before your appointment is due to advise you if you are required to attend a face-to-face appointment.

We will ensure that we keep you updated - thank you for your understanding and support.

You can read more advice on appointments and procedures and how we are taking steps to protect you from coronavirus (COVID-19) in this patient information leaflet.

Radiology and cardiology diagnostics appointments

All appointments for radiology and cardiology diagnostics will continue as normal unless you are in self isolation, so cannot attend for your scan. Please notify the team via the telephone number on your appointment letter if this applies to you.



Before your appointment

What to bring with you:

  • Your appointment letter or booking reference number
  • Medication
  • GP name, address and phone number
  • Specimens you were asked to bring

Attending your appointment

It is important that you attend your appointment. If you are unable to attend, we ask that you let us know with as much notice as possible.

If you do not attend your appointment, you may be referred back to your GP.

Hospital transport

Whenever possible, you should make your own travel arrangements. Please arrange for a friend or relative to drop you off and pick you up, or ask the ward team about arranging a taxi. You can view information about available public transport here. Hospital transport is only available for those who meet the criteria.

Arriving for your outpatient appointment

Please be aware that outpatients’ appointments take place across all of our sites: The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, St Margaret's Hospital in Epping and Herts and Essex Hospital in Bishop’s Stortford.

On your appointment letter it will state what hospital you need to go to and more information about how to get to your appointment

On arrival

Checking in at the clinic

When you arrive, please check in at the outpatients’ reception desk. The receptionist will ask you a few questions to confirm your identity, such as your date of birth, your GP, address and phone number.

We may ask if your address or phone number has changed to make sure we have the correct contact details for any correspondence we may send to you.

Once you have checked in, you will be asked to take a seat in the appropriate waiting area.

Waiting for your appointment

We appreciate your patience if there are any delays - our people will always keep you informed. If you would like to talk to someone about your appointment, please speak to the receptionist or clinic nurse.

People are seen in order of their appointment time, not in order of their arrival. In exceptional circumstances, some appointments may be prioritised if clinically urgent.

What happens?

You will meet a member of the consultant led team for your appointment - it may not always be necessary for you to meet a consultant.

After your appointment


If the doctor decides that new medication is required for treatment, in most circumstances, you will be given a prescription for a minimum of one week’s supply, which you should take to your local pharmacy. There is a standard prescription charge per item. After this time, you will need to get a further supply from your GP. There are some exceptions to this, if your medication can only be supplied by the hospital. In these circumstances, the doctor will explain to you what to do.

Please also remember that your regular repeat medication must always be obtained through your GP.

Follow-up appointments

If you have been given a follow-up appointment, please be aware, if your appointment is in:

Under six weeks: You must return to the outpatient reception desk after your appointment to book in your next appointment. A letter will be sent confirming this appointment.

Over six weeks: A letter will be sent to you asking you to book your appointment.  


The pharmacy at The Princess Alexandra Hospital is located on the ground floor in the main building, Zone B, location B24.

Pharmacies in Harlow:

Harlow Pharmacy: Wych Elm, Harlow, CM20 1QR

Medicare Pharmacy: 1 Sumners Hatch, Harlow, CM19 5RD

Well Pharmacy: Market House, Essex, CM20 1BL


New text message service introduced to improve outpatient experience

We have introduced a new electronic text message system that reminds paediatric outpatients or their parent/carer about their upcoming outpatient appointment at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (PAHT).

You will receive a reminder seven days before and 48 hours before your appointment via an SMS text message.

The new service is designed to make it easier for patients to remember their upcoming hospital appointment and respond to the text to cancel or reschedule if they need to.

The service is currently running in our paediatrics and paediatric diabetes specialties only. 

What will this mean for me?

If we have your mobile phone number stored on our records, you will receive an SMS text message to remind you about your upcoming appointment.

You will be given full instructions in the text message to confirm your appointment, cancel or reschedule if you need to.

If you do not receive a text message, you will receive a telephone call from the paediatric outpatients’ department to confirm your appointment closer to the time.

Inpatient comment:

Everyone offered words of such reassurance and kindness. I felt so cared for and the communication with me at all times was fantastic.