The Chesterfield Royal Hospital is making changes to its outpatient appointment system as part of efforts to improve choice for patients and reduce the number of cancellations and non-attendances.
A new approach to booking follow-up appointments is being introduced so that if a patient doesn’t need to be seen again within six weeks, they will be invited to call the appointments team nearer to the time to allow them the chance to choose a date and time that suits them.
Claire Carson is the Royal’s Associate Director of Performance and Information, she said: “We’re very conscious that it’s not always easy for patients to know what their circumstances and plans might be when booking an appointment weeks or months in advance. It’s also very easy to forget when your appointment is whilst planning your own personal life so, for example, booking a holiday can create a clash that has the potential to result in a cancelled appointment.
“This new way of working puts the choice of appointment increasingly in the hands of the patient. By writing to them closer to the time of when we need to see them and asking them to call us, the chances of booking an appointment that clashes with a personal commitment is reduced. The intention is, first of all, to improve appointment choice for our patients, which should then result in fewer non-attendances and a reduction of last minute cancellations.”
The change will affect all but a handful of follow-up appointments; if your next one is before June 2019 then you will be given an appointment before leaving clinic that day. If it’s after June 2019 then you will receive a letter around five weeks before you need to
come in and are asked to call to make an appointment.
Claire added: “It’s about reducing the time between booking the appointment and the appointment itself. Of course there is plenty that our patients can do to help us out as well. The appointment letter we send to patients includes a reminder to call us if they know they
can’t make an appointment. If we have a mobile number we can send patients a text message reminder of their appointment the week before it’s due. The sooner people can let us know about a cancellation the better so that we can make the slot available to
someone else, saving them time and valuable NHS resources.”
If someone forgets to book their follow up appointment they will be sent a reminder. If we don’t hear from them, their clinician will review their care and they may be discharged back to their own GP, receiving a letter to explain why.