Junior doctors in England will be taking part in strike action from 7am on Saturday 24 February 2024 until the end of Wednesday 28 February. Read the strike information for February 2024

A new way to manage hospital appointments

Gateshead Health is introducing new ways of managing outpatient appointments to help us see as many patients at the right time, in the right place and by the right method (face-to-face, telephone or video consultations) as soon as possible.

Currently, when we get a request for an appointment, we book the patient into the next one available, even if that is months in advance.

Sometimes patients cannot attend their appointment and do not let us know. This means that we can’t offer that appointment to someone else and it goes unused. Booking appointments nearer to when they are due helps us to reduce the likelihood of short notice cancellations by patients or by us.

Under the new system, patients will be added to a waiting list, in order of clinical need, meaning that the people who need to be seen mostly urgently, will be higher up the waiting list. We’ll make appointments about five weeks in advance and we’ll work down the list in order to allocate those times. If for any reason we, or you need to rearrange the appointment, you’ll go back to your place in line, not to the back of the queue.

Hospitals across the country are extremely pressured right now. Our services are no different, and that’s why it’s important for us to maximise use of the appointment slots and clinics we do have, and to do all we can to ensure patients attend their appointments.

The questions and answers below will give you more information.

What is changing?

Patients who need an appointment more than five weeks in the future will be added to an electronic waiting list and will receive an appointment letter five weeks prior to their recommended follow-up time to inform them of their appointment date and time. This is called partial booking.  

Patients who need an appointment within five weeks will book their appointment directly with the clinic receptionist or administration team and patients can advise them of any dates/times that are inconvenient to them.

If you are already under the care of a team at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust and have an appointment that is more than five weeks away, we will reschedule it. Our clinical teams will review the waiting lists and decide when each patient needs to be seen or whether there are alternative options to deliver their care.

Patients who need an appointment more than five weeks in the future will be added to an electronic waiting list and will receive an appointment letter five weeks prior to their recommended follow-up time to inform them of their appointment date and time. This is called partial booking.  

Patients who need an appointment within five weeks will book their appointment directly with the clinic receptionist or administration team and patients can advise them of any dates/times that are inconvenient to them.

If you are already under the care of a team at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust and have an appointment that is more than five weeks away, we will reschedule it. Our clinical teams will review the waiting lists and decide when each patient needs to be seen or whether there are alternative options to deliver their care.

We are introducing new ways of working to help us see as many patients at the right time, in the right place and by the right method (face-to-face, telephone or video consultations) as soon as possible. One of the ways is called partial booking.

Sometimes patients cannot attend their appointment, but do not let us know.

This means that we cannot offer the appointment to someone else and it goes unused. We know that booking appointments nearer to when they are due reduces the likelihood of short notice cancellations by patients and the Trust.

This booking process will also mean that there is less chance if us needing to cancel and reschedule appointments in the future.

No. The waiting lists are an electronic record held on Gateshead Health’s systems. Our administration team carefully manages these lists and they will ensure that all patients are booked according to clinical need.

Our clinical teams are reviewing all patients and will prioritise them in order of clinical need. Some patients might be seen sooner, a small amount may have to wait longer. If you have been informed you have been added to partial booking, we will book your appointment nearer to the planned date and contact you with the details.

Our clinical team will review the waiting lists and make a decision about when you will be seen. You may find that you will be seen sooner than your original appointment date, but if not, it will be as close to the previous date as is clinically required.

If your condition worsens or causes concern while you are waiting to be seen by the hospital specialist, please contact your GP who can request advice from one of our clinicians if needed.

If you feel that you are seriously unwell, please call 111 or, in an emergency, call 999.

You can also visit the NHS website – www.nhs.uk for advice on helping you take control of your health and wellbeing.

Your appointment letter will contain information on how to contact the booking teams to rearrange your appointment. Partial booking means that there will be capacity within a few weeks for your appointment to be rescheduled.

Then please let us know. Your appointment letter will contain information on how to contact the booking teams to cancel your appointment. It is important that you do this at the earliest opportunity so that we can offer the appointment to someone else.

Please let us know if any of the following have changed:

  • Your GP practice
  • Your postal address
  • Your mobile or landline telephone number
  • Your email address

You can let us know by contacting the Booking Team or by informing the clinic staff the next time you attend an appointment.

The NHS app also allows you to access a range of other services such as:

  • order repeat prescriptions
  • book and manage appointments
  • view your GP health record
  • book and manage coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations
  • register your organ donation decision
  • choose how the NHS uses your data
  • view your NHS number

Find out more about the app at www.nhs.uk/nhs-app