Advice For Patients Who Have Been Admitted To Hospital:
If you have been admitted to hospital, then you do not need to routinely book an appointment to see a GP just to tell us.
The hospital will give you a letter known as a "discharge summary" when you leave hospital. Every patient receives this summary of their hospital admission and a copy is sent to your GP. You are likely to get your copy several days (sometimes several weeks) before we do, so if there is important information in yours (for example any changes to your medication) please let reception know and we will make a copy of yours.
Naturally whether or not we received your discharge summary at all from the hospitapl does depend on the hospital having the correct information from you regarding your GP Surgery.
If you did not get a discharge summary then you should call the ward where you were in hospital and ask them for one.
Your discharge summary may ask you to book an appointment with your GP Surgery, for example to have your blood pressure checked with a nurse after a period of time. Please do follow the instructions that the hospital give you when you are discharged.
Occasionally a junior doctor may ask you to see your GP for something that can actually only be arranged by the hospital staff themselves, for example, a follow up CT scan. In that situation we will let you and your hospital team know. You may need to liaise with your consultant's secretary.
You should leave hospital with enough medication to last a minimum of two weeks. Any changes to your medication will be updated by the surgery on receipt of the paperwork. You do not need to make a GP appointment just to discuss that, however, if you have any questions or concerns at all regarding your medication then just contact our pharmacy team who are always very happy to help you.
If you have been in hospital and are worried or have any questions then give our reception a call and they will direct you to the most appropriate person that can help you.
Advice For Patients Who Have Been Referred To Hospital Outpatients:
As part of the NHS Constitution you have the right to start non-emergency, consultant-led treatment within 18 weeks of referral and if cancer is suspected to be seen by a consultant within 2 weeks of referral.
Once your outpatient appointment has been booked with the hospital you should receive a letter with an appointment date and details about where to go when you arrive at the hospital. If you are uncertain about anything, please telephone the contact number on your letter.
If you cant make your hospital appointment then PLEASE tell them so that your utterly valuable slot can be used by someone else. It is very rare if we have a day when several people simply fail to attend their hospital appointments. The appointment itself is wasted, the hospital will to write to inform us so that the incident is recorded on your NHS record - which costs them money and if you do still need to see a specialist, you may have to wait for several more months before you can get another appointment.
Don't forget to:
- Check the appointment details and contact the hospital if you can't make the date – if you don't go to your appointment and don't let the hospital know, you may be discharged from their care back to your GP who might then have to refer you again, costing both time and money. If you inform the hospital that you cannot attend your appointment, they can reallocate that appointment to somebody else who needs to be seen.
- Let the hospital know if you need an interpreter or signer and one wasn't booked when you arranged your appointment. Please call the hospital if you develop diarrhoea and vomiting three days before your appointment as the appointment may need to be rescheduled.
- Make some notes of things you want to discuss. Write down your two or three most important questions. List or bring all your medicines and pills – including vitamins and supplements.
- Write down details of your symptoms, including when they started and what makes them better or worse. Take those notes with you on the day and then tick each point off during your appointment. If you like, take someone with you as support.
- You may also want to bring the following with you: a small amount of money in case you need to buy a drink or snack or pay for parking, information about any changes to your personal details, such as a new address or GP, proof of entitlement to free prescriptions, if appropriate, proof of entitlement to free travel or help with travel, if appropriate.
- If you do not want to keep your appointment PLEASE CANCEL IT. Every day we receive letters from our local hospitals telling us that our patients simply failed to attend their appointment without cancelling it so that someone else could have used it.
DURING The Hospital Appointment
Although you have an allocated time slot for your appointment, you may have to wait as other appointments can overrun or the doctor may be called away to an emergency.
Its obvious when you think about it. Hospital staff care for patients in hospital at the same time as they see patients in clinics. Delay is unavoidable sometimes, perhaps even inevitable. Take a book or someone to talk to! They will always try to keep you informed about any delays but you should allow plenty of time for your visit, especially if this is your first appointment.
Checklist of questions to ask your doctor at your appointment:
Tests, such as blood tests or scans
What are the tests for?
How and when will I get the results?
Who do I contact if I don’t get the results?
What is your secretary's direct number?
Are there other ways to treat my condition?
What do you recommend?
Are there any side effects or risks?
If so, what are they? How long will I need treatment for?
How will I know if the treatment is working?
How effective is this treatment?
What will happen if I don’t have any treatment?
Is there anything I should stop or avoid doing?
Is there anything I can do to help myself?
What happens next?
Do I need to come back and see you?
If so, when?
Who do I contact if things get worse?
Do you have any written information?
Where can I go for more information?
Is there a support group or any other source of help?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about things you find unclear. Let the health professional explain it to you until you are sure you understand it.
Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand. For example, ‘Can you say that again? I still don’t understand.’? If you don’t understand any words, ask for them to be written down and explained.
Before You Leave Your Appointment
You’ve covered everything on your list; You understand, for example ‘Can I just check I understood what you said?’; You know what should happen next – and when. Write it down.
Who to contact if you have any more problems or questions; About support groups and where to go for reliable information; For copies of letters written about you – you are entitled to see these; ‘What happens if I’m not sent my appointment details?’ ‘Can I have the results of any tests?’ If you don’t get the results when you expect – ask for them. Ask what the results mean.
AFTER The Hospital Appointment
Write down what you discussed and what happens next. Keep your notes. Book any tests that you can and put the dates in your diary.
If you are discharged to your GP for follow up care your treatment plan will be sent there.
The GP will receive a letter from the hospital explaining the changes(if any).
You do not need to make an appointment to tell the GP of these changes as they will be detailed in the letter from the Hospital.
This letter will not arrive immediately, but within a reasonable time.
If you need a follow up appointment this will be arranged by the hospital.
If you need tests these will be booked by the department where they will be done. The results will go to the person that asks for the test.
Your GP surgery is usually only informed by way of a summary after all the tests have been done and the results have already been discussed with you.
If you need to go into hospital for tests or an operation you will be contacted by the inpatient team to arrange this.
The consultant’s secretary should be your first ‘port of call’ to contact if you do not hear from the hospital when expected (for example concerning results, follow up appointments, etc)
If you have any questions then contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS) Telephone: 0800 328 5640