Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust is launching a new campaign to help patients track their progress and make sure they start treatment within 18 weeks – the national NHS target.
Handy cards are being sent to new patients who have been referred directly to North Devon District Hospital or who have opted to go there via the Choose and Book system.
The cards include sections for logging when the referral was received – the point at which the 18-week ‘clock’ starts to tick – and the date by which treatment should have started. In fact, many patients begin their treatment in much less than 18 weeks.
The cards also have sections on:
- Appointments, so patients can keep notes when they go to an out-patient clinic, have tests or go on to treatment
- The types of appointment that patients might expect
- How to get the most out of the system
The cards are part of a three-month trial running until late June, which is designed to pave the way for longer-term improvements in the information provided to patients. Adverts are also running in local newspapers.
Northern Devon Healthcare is one of 10 trusts around the country to be chosen for the pilot project. The aim is to share good ideas across the NHS.
Sharon Gillbard, the Trust’s Patient Access Manager, said: “We’re always trying to make it easier for patients to find their way through the system, which can be a bit confusing.
“The cards should help people see what to expect, keep track of their progress and know when their treatment should have started. A lot of patients are still quite surprised at how quickly things can happen, given how waiting times have come down so far in the last few years.
“But one thing we would ask is, if you’ve got an appointment, please keep it if at all possible. Otherwise you’ll greatly increase the chances of missing the 18-week deadline.”
There is more information about the project and the 18-week waiting target here
The Trust’s Patient Advice & Liaison Service (PALS) can also provide help and information. Tel: 01271 314090.
The site includes tips for patients, so they can help themselves and help others:
- If you can’t make an appointment at hospital, please let us know as early as possible so we can offer the place to someone else. The number to call will be on your booking letter. If you can’t call yourself, please ask a relative or friend.
- Please be ready for your treatment by making arrangements beforehand for things like care of pets and transport to hospital, or for someone to look after your home if you will need to stay overnight.
- Please think before your appointment of any questions you might need to ask, and bring a pen and paper to write down the answers. This is particularly important now that treatment can sometimes start almost immediately.