#ConfusingComms - NHS Appointment Letters

We’re asking local people to send us examples of NHS appointment letters that have worried or confused them. With your support, we can identify how local health services in West Sussex could improve their communications.
Graphic of letters coming out of an envelope

Have you received an NHS appointment letter that has made you feel confused, worried, or anxious? Have you felt totally baffled by the language or did it help to reassure you by the way it was worded?

By sending us a copy (photo/scan) of your #ConfusingComms, you’ll be helping local health services support people well and increase attendance to important health appointments. With your support, we can highlight where these letters could be made better and help to influence positive change.

Share your NHS appointment letter

We’ll make sure anything shared can’t be traced back to you.

We are particularly interested in cancer related appointment letters, but please share any of your letters or communications with us.

Why are we asking for your letters?

We have heard from local people that NHS letters for hospital or health care appointments have made them feel confused, worried, and anxious. People have shared with us that their appointment letters:

  • Are often long and wordy
  • Contain jargon/unknown words or phrases
  • Contain information that they feel is irrelevant
  • Miss vital information (i.e. contact information, who can attend with you, accessibility options)
  • Don’t offer reassurance or help people to know what to expect.

Our health and care system colleagues tell us that some people are not attending or cancelling appointments. We want to know if this might be because of the way these letters are worded.


We spoke with Brian about his letter:

‘I received an NHS letter to inform me of my cancer outpatient appointment. I was very worried about going and planned on having my wife come along with me for support. The letter said that patients should attend alone because of the COVID rules.

I felt so anxious about going alone that I wanted to wait until the rules were lifted and my wife could come with me. I called the hospital to cancel. The receptionist was lovely and when I explained my situation, she said that I would be able to have my wife with me. If the letter had explained this, it would have saved me a lot of anxiety and worry.

What is Healthwatch West Sussex going to do with my letter?

We want to gather examples of hospital/health care letters and other communications, to report and share back with local health services. With this feedback, services will be able to identify how their communications could be improved so that patients feel confident, safe, and reassured for their appointment.

We will anonymise all information that is shared with us. Your privacy is very important to us. 

How do I share my letter with Healthwatch West Sussex?

You can share a picture/photo of your appointment letter with us via the link below:

Share your NHS appointment letter

This will take you to a website called SmartSurvey where you can upload your letter and share with us exactly how your letter made you feel.

If you would feel more comfortable sharing your experiences on the phone, please call our friendly helpdesk team on 0300 012 0122.

Has your NHS appointment letter made you feel confused, worried, or anxious?

By sending us a copy (photo/scan) of your #ConfusingComms, you’ll be helping local health services support people well and increase attendance to important health appointments. With your support, we can highlight where these letters could be made better and help to influence positive change.

Share your NHS appointment letter