Due to increased waiting times for outpatient appointments GPs have been increasingly asked by patients to “expedite” their appointments. The LMC has discussed this with the CCG and ULHT, and we have agreed that patients who are already under the care of a specialist or are waiting for a first appointment should first contact the hospital identify when the next appointment will be. If the hospital cannot give this information to the patient, or the wait is too long, in the patient’s opinion, the patient should contact the specialist secretary. The patient should then explain any change in symptoms to the secretary, and to request that the specialist reviews the referral in light of the patients symptoms, and decide if the patient requires an appointment sooner than planned.
Practices could have a message on your websites advising patients who have been waiting a long time to contact the outpatient department in the first instance, the consultant secretary in the second instance, and if still not happy to contact PALS.
If a GP clinician though is having clinical contact with a patient, it would be appropriate for the GP clinician to make a brief assessment of the change in condition, as sometimes these may not be related to the original condition for which the patient was referred. If there has been a significant change in the condition requiring a sooner appointment, it is appropriate for the clinician to inform the specialist of this. If there has not been a significant deterioration the clinician should inform the patient that unfortunately we cannot expedite appointments, and that due to COVID waiting times are extended. If the symptoms are not related to the original condition, then the clinician should take appropriate action to manage these new symptoms.
This pathway has been summarised on the flow chart and has been circulated to all hospital specialists and secretaries at ULHT. We have also created a leaflet which can be printed for patients, or used as a poster or website page.