Background All NHS-funded providers are required to collect and report patient-reported outcome measures for hip and knee arthroplasty. Although there are established guidelines for timing such measures following arthroplasty, there are no specific time-points for collection in the preoperative period. The primary aim of this study was to identify whether there was a significant amount of variability in the Oxford hip and knee scores prior to surgical intervention when completed in the outpatient clinic at the time of listing for arthroplasty or when completed at the preoperative assessment clinic. Methods A prospective cohort study of patients listed for primary hip or knee arthroplasty was conducted. Patients were asked to fill in a preoperative Oxford score in the outpatient clinic at the time of listing. They were then invited to fill in the official outcome measures questionnaire at the preoperative assessment clinic. The postoperative Oxford score was then completed when the patient was seen again at their postoperative follow up in clinic. Results Of the total of 109 patients included in this study period, there were 18 (17%) who had a worse score of 4 or more points difference and 43 (39.4%) who had an improvement of 4 or more points difference when the scores were compared between time of listing at the outpatient and at the preoperative assessment clinic. There was a statistically significant difference (P = 0.0054) in the mean Oxford scores. Conclusions The results of our study suggest that there should be standardisation of timing for completing the preoperative patient-reported outcome measures.