Explaining your hospital referral to patients

This information has been developed in conjunction with West Yorkshire Cancer Alliance and their patient participation group as well as Scottish Cancer leads and we'd like to thank them for their commitment, time and energy in creating this content. 

This resource is designed to reassure and answer questions that a patient may have about what to expect from their referral, when they will be contacted and what tests they may undergo.

We also share our Specialist Nurse telephone number, so that patients can call us for support and reassurance. 

Text your patient

Alternatively, you can send this resource to your patient via SMS text message, with their consent. 


Due to the disproportionately high number of scams that patients receive via text, they are very wary of opening messages including those with links in them.

It's important to let your patient know:

  1. They will receive the text message in the next x hours. 
  2. The text will include a weblink and it's safe to open it
  3. If they are uncertain about opening a text message/weblink then they can call the surgery to verify it. 

Top tips:

  1. Check your patient’s mobile number and update if necessary.
  2. Ensure your patient understands the reason they are being referred into hospital, namely: 
  • Elevated PSA test and/
  • Possible abnormal DRE and/or
  • Symptoms 

Standardised text message

We’ve developed a standardised text message with patients that you can incorporate into your template messaging system. 

Hello xxx, Your doctor has referred you to the hospital urology department for further tests. When you get your appointment, it’s important that you attend. For information about what to expect when you go to hospital click here www.prostatecanceruk.org/referral (NAME OF GP)

Patient insights

We have spoken with patients to gain insights into how they'd like to receive information from their GP about their referral. 

5 top tips for GPs

1. Ask patients how they want information to be provided, giving patients choice and autonomy. 

2. If sending a SMS message, let patients know when they are likely to receive it. This was due to the high number of scam messages that many patients receive. 

3. If sending a SMS message, let patients know there will be a hyperlink included in the message and it's safe to open.  

4. Consider if you need to make an appointment for your patient with your PCNs Wellbeing Co-ordinator or Social Prescriber, to go through the document and answer any questions they may have about their referral. 

5. Consider whether your patient needs an interpreter to go through the content of the document. 

We're always happy to hear from our primary care colleagues in all four nations and welcome your comments, ideas in developing resources, innovations or projects. 

Email: [email protected]