2019 Outpatients conference review

On 3rd October 2019, we opened our conference season with the highly anticipated Benchmarking & Good Practice in Outpatients Services event. The conference was extremely popular with a fantastic audience representing the Outpatients services in England and Wales. For a second year running, the Outpatients project has been delivered in collaboration with the GIRFT (Getting It Right First Time) workstream, to reduce data burden on our members.

We started the day with Emeritus Professor W Angus Wallace, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, who delivered an engaging session on the support required for virtual clinics. Professor Wallace began by identifying Trusts who are succeeding in delivering virtual clinics, before moving on to the challenges and recommendations for developing and implementing this method of patient interaction. Professor Wallace concluded that the patient pathway must be best for the patient, a statement echoed by our good practice speakers later in the day.

Following Professor Wallace, we heard the 2019 Outpatients benchmarking findings, delivered by Claire Holditch, Director, and Chris McAuley, Project Manager. The findings demonstrated outpatient service improvements year on year, despite the increased volume of first attendances and elective admissions. Participants are encouraged to review their bespoke report and explore the online toolkit in more detail to identify your position on thousands of metrics.


Out first good practice session of the day was delivered by the team from Norfolk & Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. We were delighted to hear how their attendance at the February 2019 event kickstarted their outpatient transformation programme. With an aim to be an ‘Outstanding’ Trust by 2022, the team developed a steering committee to provide the oversight missing from their outpatient department. They highlighted the importance of communication and engagement, and developed an outpatient forum for feedback, discussion and shared learning. The team reiterated the point of patient-centred efficient care for effective outpatient transformation.

Following a networking lunch, we welcomed John Hadley, GIRFT Clinical Lead for Outpatients, to the stage. The presentation focused on the GIRFT data packs provided to all Trusts, which are constructed to mirror the patient journey through outpatients. He also mentioned how the GIRFT deep dive visits offer the opportunity to discuss content from the data packs, discuss good practice, identify the five areas of improvement and inform NHS Improvement Outpatient Transformation. The update provided our delegates with the current position of the GIRFT data along with expectations from the Outpatients workstream.

We returned to good practice for the final two sessions of the day. Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust shared their outpatient transformation programme, with a consideration for integrated care. They asked: Is the appointment value added? Can it be done virtually? Can it be done in primary or community care? Or on another site? It was excellent to hear how the 2018 Outpatients findings provided evidence to motivate the transformation programme, with a focus on nurse skill mix.

Our final good practice speaker, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, shared their benchmarking for transformation. They utilised the quick reference infographic from the 2018 Outpatients findings to identify their position against nine metrics and used this to implement changes within their department. Their focus areas included cancelled clinics, overdue follow-ups, and the implementation of ORBIT, an online system to support their digital journey.

Thank you to all delegates and speakers who attended our first event of the season: #NHSBNOutpatients. Outputs from the project include a summary report, bespoke report, good practice compendium and online toolkit. If you have any Outpatients project queries, please contact Lucy Atherton, Project Coordinator.

Finally, how will you use the outputs from the benchmarking project to implement service transformation? We’d love to hear from you if you have good practice you would like to share. Get in touch with your innovative activity by contacting Emma Pruce.