Uncertainty remains over outpatient changes at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust

The way residents in Calderdale and Huddersfield receive outpatient appointments is changing, but councillors still need to be convinced it is for the better.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 7:00 am
Calderdale Royal Hospital

Lisa Williams, assistant director for Transformations and Partnerships at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, said the coming of the COVID-19 pandemic had accelerated the process, offering different versions of care.

Seventy eight per cent of planned outpatients’ appointment had been delivered through the pandemic, of which just over half – 51 per cent – were face to face with 49 per cent of appointments taking place virtually.

All urgent and cancer care treatments had been continued and there had been a GP and consultant led peer review of backlog, Ms Williams told councillors.

“Face to face has increased in the past few months but there are still restrictions in place at hospitals,” she said.

This affected capacity and appointments had to have social distancing, and patients had adapted well to video appointments, said Ms Williams.

GPs referred patients to the Clinical Assessment System (CAS) with a clinician reviewing what would be the next best step for the patient, whether this was being referred back to their GP with feedback, being offered a face to face, phone or video appointment or being sent for further investigations.

Follow-up appointments for patients with long-term conditions, usually six monthly or annually, were an issue as some people were not getting them at the moment, but the trust was working with clinicians to see how these could be done, she said.

Coun Megan Swift (Lab, Town) said the problem with remote appointments was people ended up going to A&E with issues – and getting told off for going there – while some waited in for phone appointments and the call did not come.

“We have forgotten customer care as far as I am concerned – people aren’t happy and just thinking they will be happy isn’t going to work,” she said.

Coun Mike Barnes (Lab, Skircoat) said he raised the issue before about things being missed when hospitals stopped doing outpatients’ appointments.

Coun Tina Benton (Con, Brighouse) asked if, when clinicians reviewed a patient’s information and decided whether a patient could be seen face to face or virtually, a patient could insist on being seen face to face.

Ms Williams, speaking to Calderdale Council’s Adults, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Board, said the trust had not “switched off” face to face appointments and if patients wanted a face to face appointment the trust would honour that.

Coun Danielle Durrans (Lab, Ovenden) said she preferred telephone appointments but that was because these were building on a relationships that had already been built, which was different to the start of a journey.

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