The aim of the service is to reduce unnecessary visits to hospital and patient waiting times, and also release the clinical teams to see new and more complex patients in a timely manner.
So far the rheumatology team has saved 118 hours or 4.91 days. The service is specifically designed for patients with stable long-term conditions to allow them to directly access clinical teams as and when they have a flare up of their condition. Rather than waiting for an appointment in several weeks or months, as was the norm, under this new system patients have the control as their conditions flare-up to request an appointment, helping them when they most need it.
The service is now live in the following specialities:
•Rheumatology – 478 patients now using PIFU service
•Respiratory – 85 patients now using PIFU service
•Gynaecology – 265 now using PIFU service •Paediatrics - 75 now using PIFU service
Patients have been assessed for suitability for the service by the clinicians responsible for their care. If they were deemed suitable, they were supported on how best to manage their condition from their own homes with instructions on how to access the Patient Initiated Follow-Up service if they need help or advice at any time.
David Walker, Medical Director, UHMBT, said: “Research has shown that having a regular outpatient follow-up does not necessarily help prevent patients’ conditions returning or identify new problems. In fact, many people find the follow up visits to the hospital cause a lot of unnecessary anxiety.”
Suzanne Lofthouse, Clinical Service Manager, UHMBT, said: “We have had some great results so far in rheumatology and respiratory. Staff have really embraced this way of working and patients have given us some great feedback.”
Cliff Elley, GP Executive Lead, Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “PIFU is patient focused and puts patients in control of their health care with an appropriate support structure to access as/when required according to the PIFU clinical criteria.” Patients can gain access to the new service if they need additional support to manage their condition from 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and they will be contacted with appropriate advice. To ensure that patients find the service beneficial, feedback will be gathered regularly. Patient feedback so far has included: “I think this is a great idea. It should free up time with the consultants, so that people who really need to see them can do so quicker.”
The new service has been developed as part of the Better Care Together strategy. Better Care Together is the clinically led strategy for ensuring health and care services across Morecambe Bay can remain safe, are of a consistently high standard, and can be financially sustained not just for the next five years, but well into the future.