Bolton NHS Foundation Trust is continuing to ramp up efforts to tackle COVID-19 related backlogs by putting patients in control of their care.
A series of initiatives are being successfully rolled out to let patients decide when and how they access appointments.
Patient initiated follow-up, otherwise known as PIFU, has been implemented across 22 specialties within the Trust and is used for patients with long-term conditions or following certain hospital treatments.
It aims to allow medical teams the time to accommodate other patients who need to be seen more clinically urgently, reducing the amount of time they wait for an appointment.
Since November 2021, the Trust’s Dermatology service has assessed and moved 151 patients onto a PIFU pathway for mild to moderate skin conditions.
In that time only one patient has asked to attend a follow-up appointment, saving 150 appointments for other service users.
Janet Dutton, Dermatology Service Lead at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said:
The number of patients triggering appointments are low, which demonstrates we’re putting the right patients and conditions on PIFU and means we have more time available to see other patients on our waiting lists.
“Follow-up appointments aren’t always necessary and don’t need to be routine, so we discuss with patients what trigger symptoms to look for and to call if they have a flare up.
“It’s all about improving patient experience by reducing stress, offering convenience and flexibility and we’re already receiving really positive feedback.
Ten services across the Trust are also working with primary care to provide instant specialist advice and guidance to GPs.
It allows General Practitioners access to a consultant or nurse for expert opinion and advice on conditions.
The relationship aims to improve care and treatment plans, whilst reducing unnecessary referrals and speeding up referrals for those who need it.
Tina Gundlach, Matron in Gynaecology Services, said:
The idea is for us to provide GPs and Health Care Practitioners with the advice and support so patients avoid unnecessary attendance to outpatient appointments. This means they don’t have to travel to us unnecessarily and can avoid transport and fuel costs.
“We also hope it’s reassuring for patients to know their GPs are receiving the best possible advice from specialists and that they’re being seen in the most appropriate health setting.
“It’s a great example of Bolton’s health services coming together to work as one system.
Bolton NHS Foundation Trust is continuing to roll out the initiative to more services in the coming weeks and months.