THE Dudley Group of hospitals aims to put patients in control of when they see a clinician as part of a new initiative.

A new scheme means patients can decide if, and when, they need to be seen - rather than being called for routine follow-up appointments.

Patient Initiated Follow Up (PIFU) appointments have been introduced first as a pilot in the orthopaedic department at The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and they are set to be rolled out across 10 other specialties during April.

Sohail Quraishi, consultant and clinical service lead for the department, said: “The service is specifically designed for patients with stable long-term conditions to allow them to directly access clinical teams as and when they have a flare-up of their condition.

“Rather than waiting for an appointment for weeks or months as was the norm, orthopaedic patients can now expect to speak to a clinician within three days after calling the service.

Mr Quraishi added: “This will be a real benefit to patients, reducing anxiety and unnecessary visits to hospital. The new way of working will also have a real benefit for staff and will release clinical teams to see new and more complex patients in a timely manner.”

Trust bosses say there is good evidence that, for the majority of patients, the traditional practice of regular follow-up is of little benefit and may not be necessary.

Instead, where clinically appropriate, patients will be able to call for an appointment if they feel they need it.

They will stay on the PIFU list for an agreed amount of time and if they do not need an appointment in that time, they will be discharged back to the care of their GP.

Trust chief executive Diane Wake added: “We are continually looking at how we can improve the way we provide our services, for instance introducing virtual clinics so patients can see a specialist without having to leave home. This is another example of how we can provide 21st century healthcare for our community.”