We are looking at how we continue to keep our patients safe from
COVID 19, and over the last few weeks we have had to reduce the
number of patients seen in clinics. We are now in the process of
changing how we provide outpatients services so that we can safely
begin to carry out more appointments.
How Outpatient Services will be different
- Text message
What happens next?
If you had an appointment then we will be contacting you soon to
make the necessary arrangements with you. Your case will be
reviewed by your specialist and we will let you know what they
For any future appointments, you will be advised and involved as
to how this will be carried out, including any transport
arrangements that you may require.
We are thankful for all of the support we have been receiving
from the public and our patients at this time and we ask you to
bear with us a while longer.
When you receive a letter about your appointment we will also
include some advice and information to help keep you safe.
We understand that this may be an anxious time for you, your
family and carers. Our aim is to ensure that your appointment with
us is made as comfortable as possible by our highly trained and
We have put in place a number of safety measures to protect our
patients, visitors and workforce in response to the COVID-19
This information shares more on these measures and what to
expect from your appointment.
Many of our clinics now offer 'virtual appointments' either by
telephone or video. Your doctor will have reviewed your case to
determine which is most appropriate on this occasion. These
consultations are confidential and secure and are with the same
doctor as face to face appointments. They offer the same high
standard of care but with a number of advantages. You can
'attend' your appointment from the comfort of home, or work where
appropriate, and there's no journey to hospital or wait in the
In some instances you may still be required to attend in person
and we have made a number of changes to our departments to enhance
infection prevention and control measures to protect you if you do
need to come into hospital.
Preparing for your telephone or video
If you have been invited to attend for either a video or
telephone appointment you will first be asked to confirm with your
GP that you have access to a telephone, or smart phone for a video
[FJ(CaMO1] consultation when booking or at the point of your
invite letter, to be able to conduct the appointment. The telephone
number we will contact you on will be detailed in your appointment
You will be given an appointment time, however, it can be
difficult to predict exactly how long each appointment will take,
so we recommend you allow 15 minutes either side to be
We will confirm with you at the start of the call that you and
the doctor can hear each other and, if it is a video consultation,
that you can see each other.
You may be placed on hold in a waiting area, before your
consultation begins and will be told of any delays.
All our video and telephone appointments are secure and
To help your appointment go as smoothly as possible please use
the checklist below:
Frequently asked questions
What if no-one calls me in the allotted time
slot? Please contact us using the number in your
What if the call fails? The doctor will make
every attempt to call you back.
What if I get a call just before my appointment and I
miss the doctor? Please contact us using the number
in your appointment letter and we will aim to put you back in touch
with the doctor. If necessary we will rearrange the appointment for
Can I request a face to face appointment? Your
doctor has reviewed your case and decided that a telephone or video
appointment is appropriate on this occasion, however if a further
appointment is needed you may be asked to attend hospital for your
What if I can no longer make the appointment?
We thank you for letting us know in advance, and we can re-use the
appointment slot and rearrange an alternative appointment for you.
Please contact us on the telephone number in your letter.
Attending in person and what to expect when you
You will be advised in your letter where to wait ahead of your
appointment time. This may be a redesigned waiting room to support
social distancing, or could even be in your car in a designated
waiting area. As we are protecting patients and staff by adhering
to social distancing, not all of our clinic sites will be able to
accommodate everyone in the waiting room at the same time. If you
have a mobile phone, please ensure that it is adequately charged to
make and receive calls, if you have to wait in your car.
Whenever possible you should try to arrange your own transport
to get to and from your appointment. If you do need to book an
ambulance, please refer to your appointment letter on who to
Please only attend five minutes before your appointment
We are aiming to limit the number of people on site, to support
social distancing, therefore we ask that you attend the department
on your own (unless you need the support of a parent, carer or
advocate). Please advise us of this in advance.
You will be required to wear a face covering when you come into
hospital at all times, unless otherwise advised by one of our
clinical staff. This may be a scarf, bandana or some other suitable
face covering. There is more advice on this on the Government's
You should also wash your hands at the earliest convenience and
also regularly use the hand sanitiser stations provided.
You will be asked to book in at the reception desk and the
receptionist will direct you to the appropriate waiting area.
Your appointment may have been scheduled to enable you to have
tests done before you see the doctor or nurse. The nurse
co-ordinating the clinic will explain which tests you are going to
There will be signage in the hospital and the departments to
help direct your movement in a safe way.
If you are coming into hospital for an appointment please use
the checklist below:
What if I have COVID symptoms - a high
temperature----over 37.8 degrees centigrade, a new continuous
cough, a loss or change in your normal sense of taste or
smell? You should not attend the hospital unless it is
essential. Please call NHS 111 or go to www.nhs.uk/coronavirus. No
one in your household should leave your home if any one person has
these symptoms. A Coronavirus test can be obtained by contacting
NHS 111 or via their website: www.111.nhs.uk
If you do have any of the above symptoms please contact us on
the telephone number on your letter and we will make an alternative
arrangements for your appointment.
I am currently following advice to continue to shield,
should I still attend? We understand that attending your
appointment will be worrying for you. Our doctor and your GP
will have discussed the necessity of your appointment and decided
that, on this occasion, it's necessary for you to attend hospital
so that you can be properly assessed and treated. Please
follow the guidance above on social distancing, hand hygiene
What if I forget to bring a face covering with
me? If you arrive at one of our hospitals without a face
covering this may lead to your appointment being delayed. In
exceptional circumstances, a paper face mask will be provided but
your assistance in providing your own face covering will be greatly
Is it safe to visit the hospital? We recognise
that you may be anxious about visiting the hospital at this time.
However, we would like to reassure you that we have taken every
precaution to reduce the likelihood of the spread of infection,
including having segregated areas to care for patients with
COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.
Can I have a video or telephone appointment
instead? We assure you that attending the hospital is
important. Your doctor has reviewed your case, explored the
possibility of offering you a telephone consultation but considers
that you need to attend the hospital so that you can be properly
assessed and treated.
Does a face covering project me from the virus?
Wearing a face covering does not protect you from the virus but may
offer some protection to others if you have the virus but have no
What happens next?
You are entitled to copies of letters written about you by
healthcare professionals including letters from consultants to GPs.
As part of your outpatient experience you will routinely receive a
copy of letters regarding your consultation in clinic.
If you do not wish to receive any letters then please inform a
member of staff.
Customer Care - Central Booking Department
The Team is available Monday to Friday 8am-5pm and will:
You can contact a member of the team on the telephone number on
[FJ(CaMO1]When will you be asked this? not clear…
'The treatment I have received from all the staff has been
excellent and could you extend my thanks to them all. A very
thankful and relieved patient'.
Patient, Dermatology Outpatients Department, University Hospital
of North Durham