An open letter to our patients on a waiting list

It’s important to us that we are honest with our community about the ongoing challenges we are facing and what this means for our patients.

At Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, we pride ourselves on usually having low waiting times for providing care. However, there are now many more people waiting for our services compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic. Waiting times for NHS services have increased significantly across Devon and the rest of the country.

To our patients on our waiting lists – we want to say that we are truly sorry.

We understand the physical and emotional impact of delaying operations, appointments and treatment. We know, from our regular conversations with you, that many of you are anxious and in pain. We are truly sorry for the impact that this has on you and those supporting you whilst you wait for treatment.

While many aspects of day-to-day life are returning to how they were before the COVID-19 pandemic, our local NHS services are still under significant pressure. GP surgeries in our area are extremely busy. There continues to be very high demand for healthcare services and hospital beds across Devon. We are also experiencing challenges in discharging patients from hospital, particularly those with ongoing care needs.

We are taking a number of steps to try and improve this situation and our teams are working hard to see you as quickly as we possibly can.

Some of you are waiting to hear from us and will be wondering when that will happen. Please know that every person on our waiting lists is known to us and important to us – we have not forgotten about you.

When we look at when we can offer dates for appointments or treatment, we do this by reviewing the clinical needs and symptoms of our patients and prioritising those who need care most urgently. We are regularly reviewing and reprioritising our lists – we know some people’s conditions and needs change over time.

If you are waiting for a first appointment and you feel your condition is getting much worse, you can contact your GP to help with the symptoms. Your GP will not be able to get you seen quicker or know where you are on the waiting list, but can help you manage your condition. Our teams will be in touch as soon as they have an update about your appointment.

If you are waiting for a follow-up appointment or treatment and you feel your condition is getting much worse and is becoming unmanageable, please update the relevant department at the hospital. You can find contact details on previous communications from us, such as a clinic letter. We won’t be able to tell you when you will be seen, but when your clinician reviews their list of patients, they will consider changes in your symptoms.

If you are much better and you no longer need to be seen, it would be really helpful if you can let us know.

More information

If you have access to the internet, an interactive map of national waiting times, information about managing pain and mental health support, can be found on the MyHealth Devon website.

Information and advice is also available on our website to support you to arrive for your appointment in the best possible physical and mental health. What you do now can have a really big impact – even small steps can make a big difference.

We are also working with our partner NHS organisations in Devon to develop information and communications to support people who are on waiting lists. If you would be interested in receiving news and information about waiting lists, and being involved in the work of the NHS in Devon to address them, please send your email address to

Yours sincerely,

Dr Karen Davies

NDHT Medical Director

Jason Lugg

NDHT Director of Nursing

Heather Brazier

NDHT Director of Operations


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Last updated: March 23, 2022