The purpose of this article to study referrals to our hand service to find out how long they had been waiting and with what sort of clinical conditions. The Department of Health monitors outpatient's waiting time as the percentage of patients seen within a 13‐week target. This target does not include patients referred by consultants or other health professionals.
All the referral letters from other consultants or healthcare professionals still awaiting appointments were collected. The referrals were read and studied to ascertain the most likely diagnosis. This was recorded along with the source of the referral and the details to whom the referral was made. The date of the referral letter being received by the department (date stamped) was also noted.
A total of 157 referrals from consultants or healthcare professionals were waiting outpatient dates. The median waiting time was 448 days (range 20‐952 days). The most frequent source of referrals was from the orthopaedic department. Carpal tunnel syndrome was the most common problem awaiting an outpatient appointment.
The wait for a clinic appointment for these patients is long. This has come about as the result of the fact that the government targets for outpatient waiting times have been set for GP referrals alone and exclude referrals that have been made by other consultants or other healthcare professionals. This is a clinical governance issue for the Hospital Trust, the Primary Care Trust and for general practitioners.
O'Neill, J.K., Laina, V. and Wilson, S. (2008), "Referrals between consultants. The wait to be seen in a specialist plastic surgery hand clinic", Clinical Governance: An International Journal, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 261-268. https://doi.org/10.1108/14777270810912950Download as .RIS
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