The Patient Initiated Follow-Up Service was introduced as a pilot by the Trust in February 2017 in Rheumatology.
Almost 300 patients have transferred onto this new system. It 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.
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. Due to the success of the service, the decision has been made to extend the service to cover five more specialties over the coming months.
The new specialities are:
Patients in the above specialities will be assessed for suitability for the service by the clinicians responsible for their care. If they are deemed suitable, they are educated on how 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.
Jacqui Pickles, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, UHMBT, said: “Patient initiated follow ups put the patient in control of any further appointments they have. Research has shown that having a regular outpatient follow-up does not 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”.
Dr Alex Gaw Clinical Chair, NHS Lancashire North CCG, added: “The new service will create the capacity for patients to directly access the specialist clinical teams for their condition when they most need it. For all other concerns, unrelated to the condition for which they are under the specialist, or if patients are feeling unwell, their GP remains their first point of contact.”
To ensure that patients find the service beneficial, feedback will be gathered regularly.
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.