OUTPATIENT appointments are now a lot easier to arrange thanks to the introduction of a new booking system across Hywel Dda.

The health board has adopted a direct booking process, where patients are sent a letter with a confirmed date and time for their clinic appointment and have two weeks to rearrange if it isn’t convenient. If no contact is received from the patient within the two week period, the health board will assume that the appointment has been accepted. Patients are reminded that if you fail to attend an appointment, the consultant may decide to remove you from the waiting list.

The system differs from the current, outdated ‘partial booking’ process, which can involve as many as six different letters being sent to patients arranging an outpatient appointment and can take up to four weeks from the date an appointment letter is sent out. The new approach – part of our commitment to driving quality improvements across the health board – will instantly shorten this timeframe by half and ensure that outpatient clinics are fully utilised by patients. The measures also have the potential to save the health board over £250,000 a year in unnecessary follow-up letters and free up staff to carry out other duties.

Joe Teape, Director of Operations and Deputy Chief Executive, said: “By introducing direct bookings we are bringing Hywel Dda in line with the way in which a number of NHS health boards and Trusts across the UK are already managing outpatient appointments. This will also help our front line staff by ensuring patients make full use of clinic appointments.

“The health board is committed to driving up quality and patient experience and we know that there is still a lot of work to be done, however this new measure should bring welcome improvements both for patients and staff and help us to work as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

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