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Copying patient letters – making it work

Katrina Brockbank (Salisbury Health Care NHS Trust, Salisbury, UK)

Clinical Governance: An International Journal

ISSN: 1477-7274

Article publication date: 1 September 2005



That patients should be able to receive a copy of any letter written about them is part of the British Government's policy to increase patients' involvement in their care and treatment. All National Health Service (NHS) organisations are expected to implement this by April 2005. This paper aims to describe how one acute Trust has used basic change management principles to implement the initiative.


Examines the approach of the Salisbury Health Care NHS Trust, where initially a survey of all consultants, senior nurses and allied health professionals was carried out.


Initial concerns that patients would not understand the letter were generally unfounded with 98.9 per cent of patients saying that they understood their letter. Of patients, 96.9 per cent said that they found receiving a copy letter useful.


The research demonstrated a high percentage of patients wanting a copy letter, which has huge resource implications in terms of secretarial time, additional stationery and postage costs. Change is difficult and an emotionally charged issue however, using examples of good practice and taking a multi‐faceted approach to the change process the initiative has been successfully implemented.



Brockbank, K. (2005), "Copying patient letters – making it work", Clinical Governance: An International Journal, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 231-240.



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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited