This opinion piece by GP educator and writer John Launer looks at the current delays and cancellations to routine appointments facing patients with long term conditions. He describes his personal experience of waiting three years with no face-to-face of phone appointment to review his condition, when this should happen every six months. John outlines the fact that routine outpatient care in some hospitals is unravelling, but with no monitoring of the situation and without publicity.
He highlights the risks for patients who are not receiving the regular contact with healthcare professionals that they need, including medical complications, emergency admissions and even preventable deaths. There is particularly risk to patients who do not feel able to contact their consultant or specialist. When speaking to the hospital department about how the risks were being mitigated, John was concerned to discover that there were no screening procedures in place for clinicians to determine which patients were at highest risk; no prioritisation as going on and there was no system in place to monitor the consequences of this.
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