New patient booking system introduced at Pennine Acute Trust to improve patient choice and to reduce waiting times
Patients requiring a follow-up appointment at an outpatient clinic at hospitals run by The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust will have more choice and flexibility when arranging the date and time of their appointment thanks to a new booking system.
The Trust, which runs North Manchester and Fairfield General Hospitals, The Royal Oldham Hospital and Rochdale Infirmary, has introduced a new partial booking system to make it easier for patients and reduce waiting times. It will also reduce the number of appointments that are cancelled or rescheduled by the hospital and by patients, bringing greater efficiency.
If you are a patient and you need a follow up appointment within six week time you will be able to book directly into a clinic slot via the clinic receptionist. If you do not need an appointment within six weeks you will instead receive a letter through the post inviting you to call the hospital booking and scheduling department to arrange a date and time that is convenient for both yourself and the hospital. This will reduce the chance that the appointment could be cancelled or even forgotten. If you do not book an appointment you may be discharged from clinic and a letter will be sent to your GP explaining this.
Every year thousands of appointments are wasted when patients fail to attend. Missed appointments delay an individual’s treatment and increase waiting times for all other patients, costing the Trust, and the NHS in general, millions of pounds every year. The Trust estimates that it costs services around £1 million when patients do not turn up for their appointment.
Janet Nicholls, head of booking and scheduling at The Pennine Acute Trust said:
“Our new partial booking process will reduce the number of appointments that are cancelled or rescheduled by our hospitals and by patients, which is better for patients and will help improve resource productivity, saving money for the NHS. We wanted to improve patient satisfaction with booking information and contact letters and this is the main reason the partial booking system was introduced. It will also help us manage the capacity in our outpatient clinics and reduce waiting times for patients.”
The new booking system has already been implemented across the Trust’s outpatient clinics for Cardiology, Paediatrics Diabetes, Endocrine services and recently Ophthalmology at Rochdale Infirmary and Fairfield General Hospital. The Urology service is expected to go live across all of our hospitals within the next few weeks. We are now starting to roll out the process to another 16 specialities across the Trust and this should be complete by 2016 at the latest.
The Trust is also expanding on the free reminder service that was introduced in 2013 consisting of an automated message system for outpatient appointments and an agent call system for inpatient and day case procedures. To improve efficiency in outpatient waiting times, DNA’s and capacity we are looking to roll out a text messaging service. To enable the Trust to develop this service it is very important to have up to date land line and mobile phone numbers and patients will be asked to confirm their numbers when contacting the hospital sites.