HEALTH bosses in Gwent are planning a major review of cases on outpatient follow-up waiting lists, to try to create a clearer picture of just how many people need such an appointment.
The move follows the discovery of tens of thousands of what are known as beyond date follow-ups on lists across all specialities, where patients scheduled to have a follow-up appointment following an initial consultation, an operation, or a diagnostic procedure, have not had one.
More than 80,000 have been identified, but Aneurin Bevan University Health Board suspects that many will constitute cases where patients are retained on follow-up lists but are not seen, where appointments have been duplicated, where patients have already been seen but remain on the follow-up list, or where they remain on the list despite no longer needing to be seen.
Only when cases have been scrutinised and removed from lists where appropriate, will it be possible to get an accurate idea of the size of the follow-up outpatient appointments issue in Gwent.
There are follow-up backlogs, but until their true extent can be determined, the health board cannot plan or propose what needs to be done to address problems with a lack of capacity.
Plans have already been developed to reduce follow-up volumes, with special focus on areas where follow-up patients are deemed to be at a higher clinical risk, such as cardiology and ophthalmology.
Another area of higher risk is gastroenterology patients needing a diagnostic follow-up, such as after an endoscopy.
Extra capacity is being arranged to clear these lists, but for other areas a trawl of cases has the potential to reduce list sizes. Inputting errors are suspected to be a cause of potentially invalid follow-up list entries, and a change of computer system is believed too to have increased follow-up volumes.