Hi all...don't know what happens in your health authority but I've just become aware of something called 'the paper clinic'!
Following recent endoscopy and colonoscopy examinations I noticed that the colonoscopy report (which was handed to me at the time) concluded with the phrase 'refer to paper clinic'.
When I returned to the clinic (because of abnormalities found during the endoscopy), I asked what this meant.
I was told that when test results are found to be normal, no follow-up appointment is given and the patient simply receives a letter informing them of the results (the paper clinic!).
This, I was told, is becoming normal practice in all out-patient clinics.
This means that any follow up questions you have can never be addressed. It also means that if you still have symptoms for which no cause has been found, further investigations will not be undertaken. It also means that you will be unable to a) ask for a second opinion or b) ask for an onwards referral to another consultant (or a letter to your GP asking for this) or c) discuss any ongoing concerns or explore other reasons for your symptoms.
Missing this step is especially important if you want an 'out of area' referral since local Clinic Commissioning Groups will often refuse to do out of area referrals unless this is requested by another hospital consultant, due to funding issues! (This is certainly the case at my GP surgery).
This is so bad on so many levels! I never ceased to be amazed at the ingenious ways that the health service finds to make 'efficiency' savings. Usually at some cost to the patient (we all know about that!).
So, in future, I shall be asking all my follow up questions, before the follow up! I will also be asking about what further actions will be taken if all the tests are 'normal'. I will also specifically request that a follow up appointment is offered, Oh, I will be so popular 😀.
I really hope that this is not being repeated in your health area!
It seems that 'test result driven treatment' has reached a new level!