Communicating with patients about delayed appointments

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Summary of report content

During the pandemic, hospital appointments were delayed. Healthwatch Surrey heard from residents that, as the pandemic went on, frustration and confusion built as they did not know when they would be seen by health care professionals.

Through conversations with patients, Healthwatch Surrey heard that clear, proactive communication with patients reduces the need for multiple queries to the hospital and GPs, freeing up pressure on admin staff.

Healthwatch Surrey wrote to all the acute hospitals in Surrey in April 2021, to find out how they were planning to communicate with patients on waiting lists. They recommended that:

  • Hospital websites were updated to include general information for those on waiting lists.
  • There is a straightforward contact mechanism for patients to follow-up with hospitals.
  • There is a consistent approach across the hospital to contact all patients currently on waiting lists at pre-determined time points.
  • If the hospital needs to cancel treatment, patients are followed up with clear information as to what to expect next, with approximate time frames.

This report contains responses from five hospitals in Surrey.

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General details

Report title 
Communicating with patients about delayed appointments
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Surrey
Date of publication 
Thursday, 28 October, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Thursday, 1 April, 2021
Date evidence capture finished 
Friday, 30 April, 2021
Key themes 
Communication between staff and patients
Waiting times and lists for treatment

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Secondary care services 
Acute services with overnight beds
Acute services without overnight beds / listed acute services with or without overnight beds
Inpatient care

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Yes action has been taken or promised

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.