Updated: Jun 30, 2020
Over the past few weeks, some outpatient services have changed, but these changes are a tiny element of what's possible. The model is still missing opportunities to enhance our health and wellbeing and provide a step-change in how we experience them.
These vital services face a series of challenges and now is the opportunity to reset these services into a completely different model, for the benefit of us all.
My own experience from a few years ago highlights some of the issues. Following a GP referral initially, all was well. Following investigative surgery, the follow-up appointment was cancelled and not rescheduled. Six months later, speaking to the consultant secretary, I discovered the hospital had discharged me with the only route to a follow-up appointment for my GP to re-refer me, which he did. Three months later, after cancelling some work-related events to attend, the outpatient processes allocated me to the wrong clinic, something I discovered on arrival. Another three months wait, followed by three low-value follow-ups. Only when I managed to speak briefly with the consultant (via phone) was I able to understand then the result of the investigative surgery and what would happen next. Subsequent surgery then ran very smoothly.
There are lots of similarly poor experiences of outpatient services, here's one such story from a former colleague. These experiences point to some fundamental problems with these high-volume hospital services.