HOSPITAL bosses say patients in south Warwickshire are being given greater control over appointments.
South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (SWFT) is changing the way it manages outpatient appointments at hospitals to help improve access to ongoing specialist care.
The new approach – called Patient Initiated Follow-Up (PIFU) – allows patients to arrange follow-up appointments as and when they need them, rather than having automatic routine reviews.
Bosses say there is evidence that, for the majority of patients, routine follow up at regular intervals is not needed or wanted and PIFU enables them to make decisions about follow-up consultations to suit their needs.
As well as enabling patients to access the care they need as and when they need it, the new approach aims to help avoid unnecessary trips to hospital – saving patients time and money.
It also aims to make better use of clinical resources by reducing the number of unnecessary appointments so patients who do need a follow-up consultation can be seen more quickly.
Peter Hutchinson, senior trust specialist in rheumatology, said: “Patient Initiated Follow-Up is a more effective way of managing outpatient appointments.
“Neither patients nor clinicians want unnecessary appointments that don’t contribute to the management or improvement of a condition. With PIFU, patients still have the same ability to access specialist care, just in a more efficient way that focuses on their needs and wishes. Because this approach will help to free up clinical time it will also enable those patients who do need to see their specialist to do so more quickly.
“Of course, PIFU won’t be suitable for all patients because some do need to have those regular follow-up appointments to ensure their condition is being managed effectively. Clinicians will identify patients likely to be suitable for PIFU and discuss it with them first. The system will remain flexible to ensure all patients can access the care they need when they need it.”
Patient Initiated Follow-Up is part of NHS England’s Outpatient Transformation Programme and is being implemented in hospital trusts throughout the country.
At SWFT it has been initially introduced in rheumatology, with a number of other specialties set to follow next year.