Outpatient letters in action
In 2019 we travelled to the Freeman Hospital Newcastle, in order to discuss the implementation of the outpatient letter standards. Dr Ian Logan, consultant nephrologist at the organisation, spoke to us about the benefits the hospital had seen from writing standardised outpatient letters directly to patients, using language that was understandable and clear. In addition to positive feedback from patients, clinicians reported that the letter writing process helped them to understand exactly what had been discussed with patients. This meant they could more easily outline any areas they needed support with and establish the best course of action for continuing a collaborative conversation.
The hospital has also seen a reduction in the number of additional queries after letters were distributed, increasing efficiency within the organisation. It also helps people to better understand when their clinic sessions need to take place, and includes all the information that someone needs to know about their condition.
“I’m being treated for renal failure and come to hospital three times a week for dialysis. Often they need to discuss my situation, but always follow up with a letter that has no jargon and is really easy to follow. Anything you’ve discussed at the appointment and any changes to your treatment are all in the letter, written in a way that’s personable to me.”