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Outpatient Appointments

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

  • Clinic and waiting rooms will be improved to allow social distancing and reduce the risk of infection
  • We will carry out more communication and clinics with you using virtual technology, including:

-      Telephone

-      Video

-      Questionnaires

-      Text message

-      Email


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 recommend.

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 experienced staff.

We have put in place a number of safety measures to protect our patients, visitors and workforce in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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 outpatient department.

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 appointment

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 letter.

Virtual App

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 contacted.

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.

virtual app 2

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 confidential.

To help your appointment go as smoothly as possible please use the checklist below:

outpatient covid checklist1

Frequently asked questions

What if no-one calls me in the allotted time slot? Please contact us using the number in your appointment letter.

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 another time.

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 next appointment.

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 arrive

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 contact.

Please only attend five minutes before your appointment time.

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 website:

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 have.

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:

outpatient covid checklist2

Frequently asked questions

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 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:

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 etc.   

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 appreciated.

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 symptoms.


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.

What happens next?

  • You may need a follow-up appointment. If this is the case the receptionist will make this appointment with you before you leave.
  • You may be referred to another doctor or specialist nurse or therapist, your doctor will do this for you.
  • You may need a procedure that requires admission to our hospital.
  • You may be discharged and referred back to your GP.

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:

  • Advise and support patients/relatives/carers
  • Listen confidentially to concerns, complaints suggestions or queries
  • Help sort out concerns quickly on your behalf

You can contact a member of the team on the telephone number on your letter.





[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