New process for outpatients to improve service

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A CENTRALISED outpatient appointments’ reception is set to be introduced at Noble’s Hospital from Monday (January 14).

The service is being established in a bid to improve services for patients across the Department of Health.

The facility will act as a one-stop shop for making, rescheduling and cancelling appointments, as well as providing a check-in service for those arriving at the hospital for clinics.

By centralising appointment services, which currently operate separately for each clinic, it’s hoped greater efficiency and consistency can be delivered, freeing up resources and providing a better service to those visiting Noble’s Hospital and those contacting the hospital in connection with appointments.

Member for Health, Dudley Butt MLC said: ‘When the department gave the public an update on waiting times in November last year, we made it clear that whilst progress was being made, there remained much work to do. The new appointments’ reception is part of this work.

‘By centralising processes and staff that are responsible for appointments into one core team, we believe we can deliver a much more efficient service.

‘We also believe we can create additional capacity within existing resources by ensuring that only this core team of staff deal with appointments, no matter which Noble’s Hospital outpatient clinic is being visited.’

He said: ‘The new system will help to ensure available clinic appointments are not wasted and are allocated to other patients when someone cancels their appointment as well as releasing staff time to improve support for front-line services.

‘For example, at the moment, each consultant’s medical secretary can expect to deal with a large volume of calls from patients, but by taking calls, time that should be spent on helping to manage waiting lists, getting letters out to patients and GPs, and other secretarial work is all being delayed as calls, together with voicemails and messages, are taken, listened to and followed up.

‘We want patients to be able to contact the hospital and get a swift response – so what we’re doing is redeploying our resources to make the system work better, which will hopefully make it much easier and smoother for the patient.’

Director of nursing, midwifery and therapies Bev Critchlow, said: ‘During the initial launch, the hospital’s volunteer welcomers will be on hand to assist patients and the new outpatient appointments’ reception desk will be clearly signed.

‘Obviously, this new system represents a change for both staff and patients and will take a little time to bed in, but it is a change we strongly feel will be for the better. Demand for healthcare is increasing, and we need to use the resources we have to effectively manage that demand.

‘As well as helping us to be more efficient and effective, this will also improve service for our patients. There will be a dedicated phone line for all appointment-related queries, meaning it will be much easier for us to re-allocate cancelled appointments to other patients, making sure we utilise this potentially wasted capacity.

‘We would ask patients to note the number, it is 650103, and ring this number if they have any enquiries about their outpatient appointment or if they need to change or cancel it.’

From Monday, January 14, patients wishing to attend outpatient clinics at the main Noble’s Hospital building (i.e. not those taking place in the day assessment and treatment unit or the diabetes centre) will need to:

• Check-in for their appointment at the new outpatient appointments’ reception desk in the main foyer of the hospital (Welcomers will be available at the old clinic reception desks to welcome and advise patients)

• Return to the outpatient appointments reception desk after their appointment to either be discharged or arrange a follow-up appointment

• Telephone the new outpatient appointments’ reception on 650103 for all enquiries about appointments, including cancellations and re-booking