Access Policy

The Royal Marsden's Access Policy helps to ensure that all patients are treated fairly and equally. The policy sets out how the Trust manages referrals, waiting times for treatment, and bed availability on a day-to-day basis. This is a summary of that policy for patients.

Specialist care

The Royal Marsden is a specialist cancer hospital and receives referrals from GPs, consultants and other hospitals when patients need specialist care.

This means that other hospitals may be involved in your care at different points during your treatment plan. For example, you may be referred to your local hospital for tests, receive care at The Royal Marsden for specific parts of your treatment plan, and then have your follow-up care at your local hospital or with your GP. 

Sometimes if you become unwell during your treatment you may be admitted to your local hospital because it is either too far to travel to The Royal Marsden, or because you need the care of a non-cancer specialist hospital.

Similarly, this also means we may not accept referrals from GPs or other Trusts, when patients could be treated closer to home, at their local hospital.

Waiting times

All patients have the right to start NHS consultant-led treatment within 18 weeks from referral.

If you are referred to The Royal Marsden because your GP suspects you have cancer, your first appointment will be within two weeks. If cancer is confirmed you have a right to be treated within 62 days of referral if it is your first treatment or 31 days after you have made the decision with your consultant to start treatment; whichever is sooner. In some cases it will be clinically appropriate to wait longer or you may choose to wait longer.

It is very important that you are available during this time for tests and consultations to ensure your treatment can be started as soon as possible. To ensure we can provide timely access for all our patients to the hospital’s services it is also important you attend scheduled appointments and let the hospital know if you can no longer make an appointment.

Patients who do not attend two or more appointments with the hospital without cancelling or rearranging in advance may have their care transferred back to their GP. 

Second opinions and transfer of care requests

Due to the high number of second opinion requests The Royal Marsden receives, we are not able to accept all referrals for a second opinion.

Where the referral is accepted, a clinician will review the request and will either provide a written second opinion for the referring doctor or may see the patient for an assessment if The Royal Marsden can offer a different or specialist treatment or entry into a clinical trial.