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Press release – February 24 2022
Wye Valley NHS Trust is using new ways of improving communications with patients who are waiting for hospital outpatient appointments as part of its efforts to tackle waiting lists which have grown during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A pilot project in neighbouring Worcestershire has gone down well with patients and now, starting on Monday next week, February 28, patients awaiting a first or follow up appointment will be contacted by an automated telephone calling system.
During the call they will be guided through a series of questions to update the referral with current information and confirm whether the appointment is still required.
This will allow the Trust to establish whether patients’ conditions have improved, whether they have sought treatment elsewhere or whether they still need to be seen.
“As a result of the pandemic, more patients are waiting for a specialist appointment and we are doing all we can to reduce this list,” said Jane Ives, Wye Valley NHS Trust’s managing director.
“Many of these are people who were referred during the pandemic but have yet to be contacted regarding a hospital appointment.
“These automated calls will help us to ensure those who need treatment are seen as quickly as possible.”
The patients who will receive an automated call will be sent an SMS/text message in advance to let them know they can expect an automated call about their appointment.
The Trust will continue to contact other patients via more traditional methods - telephone or letter.
Mike Emery, Director for Digital Health and infrastructure at NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire CCG said: “We know that across the country the NHS is facing a huge challenge to restore services as a result of the disruption caused throughout the pandemic.
“In order to address waiting times and ensure patients are seen as quickly as possible, we are looking at a number of ways to do this and automated calling is one option.
“We will still be using traditional means of letter writing and personal calling also, but in addition to this we need to look to innovative solutions to help manage the increasing demand for services."
Automated calling has already been adopted in other parts of the country to contact those who have waited throughout the pandemic to see if they wish to remain on appointment lists.
During the call, patients can still choose to speak to someone in person and plans are in place to use alternative means to contact anyone who misses a call.
The call will show up as coming from 01432 688000. For further information, please refer to a set of Frequently Asked Questions we have put together
Notes to Editors WVT:
- Wye Valley NHS Trust is a provider of health services across Herefordshire and beyond. The Trust exists to improve the wellbeing, independence and health of the people we serve.
- By working closely with our partners, we can make good our promise to deliver a quality of care we would want for ourselves, our families and our friends.
- With an estimated annual turnover of around £295 million, we employ around 3,000 staff. We aim to build new relationships between our staff, patients, service users and their carers with the wider community.
For further information please contact:
Fiona Gurney, communications officer, or John Burnett, Communication and Engagement Manager, Wye Valley NHS Trust: 01432 372928