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Modernising outpatients

a picture of a waiting room

Did you know that each year there are over half a million outpatient appointments in our Swansea Bay hospitals? Most of these (around 340K) are patients called back for follow up appointments.

But each month 2,000 – 3,000 patients just don’t turn up. That’s an expensive drain on NHS resources and, more importantly, wastes slots which could have been offered to others.

You can’t treat an empty seat.

Our current outpatients system has been in place for many years, so we recognise it really does need to be overhauled and modernised. We want to make it more convenient and effective for you - by making the most of best practice, new technology and effective communications systems.

We know it can be frustrating to be called for a routine check-up; having to take a day off work and/or make travelling or child care arrangements, etc, only to be in and out in moments as everything’s OK. 

Or even if your treatment is modified, did we really need to put you through all that inconvenience?  Could we manage your outpatient care another way in future?

And how about the impact on our environment with hundreds of thousands local car journeys just taking patients to appointments (never mind the parking!)

Remember those no-shows? A fair proportion are patients who are voting with their feet because they feel they don’t actually need to come back to see us.

There will always be a need for some patients to receive their outpatient appointments in the traditional way. But for many others, there are alternatives we’re looking at, which would not only reduce the inconvenience factor but in many cases enhance care.

We’ve already started working on improvements, and in future you’ll be seeing more and more of things like using technology to access services, virtual clinics and telephone or Skype consultations.

We’ll also be encouraging more self-management of certain conditions, so you can access us when you really need to, rather than just attend on a routine date in the diary.

But right now we have two big asks:

First - if you have an outpatients appointment but won’t be coming, PLEASE let us know. We can then offer that slot to someone else, and it won’t waste resources. Letting us know you can’t come also reduces the risk of you being taken off our list. (You might have seen a story in the news about this recently: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-49263455 )

Secondly - if you want to share your ideas on improving outpatient care, please share it with us. These are your services, and we want you on the design team to make improvements together. Please email us on: SBU.OutpatientProject@wales.nhs.uk

Dr Phil Coles, who is the clinical lead for the outpatients’ modernisation programme, has also explained some of the thinking behind what we’re doing in this short subtitled video.

Thanks, and we look forward to hearing from you!

 
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