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From GNCH to GP: A retrospective audit of clinic letters from Paediatric Surgery Department in Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Trust

Nermeen Ali1, Milan Gopal1, Elisabeth Richter2, Lina Benkhardt2
1Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. 2German medical student, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom


Introduction: Delivering a timely brief of the clinic appointment to patients and primary carers is important for them to understand the patient’s condition, treatment & care needs ensuring safety & continuity of care.
This audit examines our adherence to the recommendations in the NHS standard contract (2016/17) suggesting that clinic letters should be sent to GPs within 14 days of attendance, reduced progressively to 10 days (from 01/04/2017) and 7 days (from 01/04/2018).

Methods: We reviewed clinic letters for appointments between 09/01/2023 & 20/01/2023. All consultants (8/8) had clinics during this period. Non-attenders with no letters were excluded.
Trust e records and IT files were used to identify patients with appointments and dates of the three stages the letters go through (dictation/typing date, finalization date, signing date).

Results and Conclusions:
• 345 clinic letters were dictated/typed.
• The mean time from the clinic to signing the letters is 16.5 days.
• Typing/Dictation mean= 0.4 days with 91% typed/dictated on the same clinic day.
• Finalization mean= 11.4 days from typing/dictation.
• Signing mean= 4.8 days from finalization.
• Our adherence to the current 7-day standard is only 10.7%.

Working on causes of the delay & re-auditing aiming next for a target of 10 days from clinic appointment (progressing to 7 days on the 3rd cycle), divided as follows:
• Typing/dictation on same day of clinic (increasing from 91% to 100%).
• Finalization in a maximum of 7 days from typing/dictation.
• Signing in a maximum of 2 days from finalization.