Waiting for your outpatient appointment during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on the NHS. In Lincolnshire, we are working hard to tackle the backlog of patients whose care has been impacted by the pandemic. We need to do this whilst also keeping our patients safe.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on the NHS. Although COVID cases in our hospitals have now reduced we are still having to work in COVID-safe ways.  As a Trust we are working hard to tackle the backlog of patients whose care has been impacted by the pandemic. We need to do this whilst also keeping our patients safe.

We know that patients on our waiting lists are anxious about the length of time that they are having to wait for their hospital appointments and unfortunately, at the moment we are unable to confirm how long any wait may be.  To help you whilst you wait for your appointment we have put together some FAQs and some additional support around how you can be supported as you wait for your appointment.

FAQS:

I’ve been referred by my GP – what happens next?

If your GP is unable to find an available appointment with your specialist, you will be put on the ULHT Outpatient Appointment waiting list. The ULHT Outpatient Appointment Service will then review your referral. The referral for your GP will be reviewed for clinical urgency and all patients are booked in date order, based upon the outcome of this review.

How long will I have to wait for my appointment?

Currently wait times are longer than usual. You may have been on our waiting list for longer than you expected. You have not been forgotten – we are working through all of our lists to ensure people can be seen, based on priority of need.

My symptoms have deteriorated – what do I do?

If you have been referred to hospital and are waiting to be seen as an outpatient or inpatient, and your symptoms deteriorate you need to contact the hospital you have been referred to for a specialist to review your referral letter and changing symptoms (see contact numbers for each hospital). Your GP won’t be able to help with getting your referral dealt with any quicker, however they may be able to support with symptom management if your symptoms have worsened.

I’m expecting a follow-up appointment, what happens next?

Depending on the outcome of your first appointment, your clinician will have given you a time-scale for your next appointment. The appointments team will arrange your next appointment based upon that outcome.

Additional Support:

Coping with stress:

Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure and, coupled with mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, it is the reason for one in five visits to your GP surgery.

We recommend ten simple stress busters:

• Be active – exercise helps you deal with your problems more calmly
• Take control – it’s crucial to finding a solution that satisfies you and not someone else
• Connect with people – a problem shared is a problem halved
• Have some me time – set aside a couple of nights a week to leave work at a reasonable hour and do something you enjoy (the UK works the longest hours in Europe)
• Challenge yourself – do something new, such as learning a language or a new sport
• Avoid unhealthy habits – don’t rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as ways of coping
• Do volunteer work – helping people who are worse off than you will put your problems in perspective
• Work smarter, not harder – concentrate on the tasks that will make a real difference to your work
• Be positive – be glass half full instead of glass half empty
• Accept the things you can’t change – and concentrate on everything you have control over.

Spotting the early signs of stress will help you figure out ways of coping and stop you adopting unhealthy coping methods, such as drinking or smoking. There are many things you can do to manage stress more effectively, such as learning how to relax, taking regular exercise and adopting good time-management techniques.

Coping with pain: 

The Lincolnshire Community Pain Management Service (CPMS) has been designed to support patients living with persistent pain. The Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) is made up of a variety of pain clinicians such as Nurses, Physiotherapists, Consultants, Psychologists, Occupational Therapists and specialist GP’s to help patients live a full and meaningful life despite their pain.

Patients are referred into the service through a health professional e.g. GP / Consultant / Community Service etc – currently there is no self-referral route. You can find out more about the service here: Lincolnshire – Connect Health

Please note that the CPMS is not run by ULHT – but our patients are able to access this service.

Mental health and wellbeing: 

We all need good mental health and wellbeing – it’s essential to living happy healthy lives. Self-care and general lifestyle changes can help us relax more, achieve more and enjoy our lives more. They may also help to prevent problems from developing or getting worse and can help us deal with difficult times in the future.

It’s important to remember there isn’t always an instant solution, recovering from mental health problems and maintaining good mental wellbeing takes time and focus.

Our partners LPFT run extensive mental health support you can find out more by visiting their website.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle:

One You Lincolnshire, a new integrated healthy lifestyle service was launched to support residents of the county with making significant long-term changes to their health.

Residents in Lincolnshire have free access to health coaches that support being smokefree, drinking less, eating well and moving more, you can find out more by visiting their website.