17 August 2023

An update from our colleagues at NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin

As part of the local Outpatients Programme, new initiatives are being put in place to improve people’s experiences of services in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.

The focus of the Outpatients Programme is on planned care happening in a hospital or clinic where people do not need to stay overnight.

Mr Andrew Elves, Clinical Lead for the programme, said: “COVID-19 had a significant impact on the amount of planned care the NHS across the country has been able to provide – this led to more people on our waiting lists resulting in increased waiting times for appointments.

“We’ve been working very hard to reduce these waiting times so that people get the care they need when they need it.

“We’ve been listening to people, including patients, their carers, and staff working within the health and care system, to understand what is important, what improvements we can make, and how we can build on what is already working well.”

As part of the improvement programme, waiting lists are being checked to make sure they are up to date and people are being prioritised according to their clinical need. Those on the waiting lists are being sent regular text messages where this is possible to ask whether their need has changed or if it has remained the same.

Mr Elves continued: “Regular and clear communication is something people have told us is really important to them. Contacting patients in this way allows us to ensure our waiting lists are as accurate as they can be, and we can get to the people who need to be seen as quickly as possible.”

The programme has increased the use of existing initiatives such as Advice and Guidance where GPs can access support from specialist consultants to speed up the triage process, and the experience from this is contributing to the National Advice and guidance programme.

Similarly, Patient Initiated Follow-up enables people to contact their hospital team for advice or to arrange a follow-up as their condition requires, avoiding unnecessary GP appointments.  Increasing the use of video and telephone consultations also reduces the need to travel, saving people time and money, as well supporting the NHS’ green ambitions.

Mr Elves added: “We are already achieving significant levels of delivery across most of our specialities for our virtual consultations and continue to engage our clinical teams in discussions about how this approach may be extended. Patient initiated follow-up is playing an increasing role in ensuring patients are empowered and seen at the right time for them, as well as creating capacity for new patients to be seen in a timely fashion.”

As well as these new and existing ways of working, the local health and care system is looking to increase the capacity across services so that more patients can be seen, by scaling-up current service provision and making use of the independent sector.

For more information about the Outpatients Programme go to https://www.shropshiretelfordandwrekin.nhs.uk/our-work/outpatients-transformation/