Outpatients’ booking systems: an interim Healthwatch report

Working closely with the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and local NHS Trust, we launched an outpatients’ booking survey in January 2020.
Front view of Brighton General, Snow Covers foreground and building

With the help of our volunteers we subsequently visited several outpatient departments based at the Royal Sussex County and Princess Royal hospitals to speak with patients. We wanted to understand what aspects of the current booking system were working, and where it fell- down. By March, we had gathered the views of 120 patients. Our plans to analyse the results, publish our report and discuss our findings with providers were halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 will undoubtedly impact on future outpatient waiting times which are increasing one week every week. In the future, services are likely to face severe disruption and it may take years to restore services to a new normal. As systems look to restore after COVID-19, we will return to our project’s findings and work with our CCG and NHS Trust to determine what the data reveals in terms of where improvements can be made. Patient experiences can also help to deliver on the NHS Long Term Plan for transforming outpatients’ systems, whilst modernising it for the benefit of patients.

Highlights from this project include:

  •  We visited 4 hospitals; 19 wards; 9 departments and 3 specialist mental health services
  • 11 of our staff and volunteers took part, contributing over 75 hours. BSUH and SPFT staff supported us.
  • We collected 120 patient experiences using a survey developed with the involvement of BSUH and CCG

What impact have we had:

As well as delivering this project and discussing our concerns directly with BSUH, the CCG and a company called Optum (who deliver GP outpatient referrals), and providing them with real-life case studies highlighting patient experiences, we have:

  • We have been interviewed by the BBC about patient experiences helping to raise public awareness.
  •  Liaised with other Healthwatch teams to understand the wider context.
  •  Been asked to join the newly created BSUH Outpatient improvement group and at the Trusts meetings with Optum


You can download the report here. If you need it in a different format, please contact us at download@healthwatchbrightonandhove.co.uk or 01273 234041

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