Outpatients

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Outpatient appointment guidance

We provide outpatient appointments both virtually, with telephone and video clinics, and face-to-face.

Face-to-face appointments will take place across all specialities where they cannot be carried out virtually. A thorough checklist and assessment process is in place to identify which patients these appointments are suitable for.

Our teams will contact you before your appointment is due to advise you if you are required to attend a face-to-face appointment.

Radiology and cardiology diagnostics appointments

All appointments for radiology and cardiology diagnostics will continue as normal unless you are in self isolation, so cannot attend for your scan. Please notify the team via the telephone number on your appointment letter if this applies to you.

Viewing your hospital letters online

How can I view my hospital letters online? Graphic

Outpatients can easily view and download their hospital outpatient appointment letters and follow-up appointment letters via the Dr Doctor online system. The letters can be viewed online via a smartphone, tablet, computer or device, at any time.

Important note: With current Royal Mail postal strikes, there may be a delay with receiving your letters. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to sign up to DrDoctor to view your letters online.

How do I sign up to the online system?

If you have provided your mobile phone number as part of your medical records, you will receive a text message that will take you straight to the secure log in page to set up an account. You will need to input your full name, date of birth and postcode.

If your mobile number has changed, or you would like to receive your hospital letters online but haven’t previously provided your mobile number, please contact your GP surgery to update your details - your details will then update on our synced systems.

How do I view my hospital letters? Example image of the text message

Once you have created an account for the DrDoctor online system (details above), you will receive a text message with the link to view your outpatient appointment letter or appointment follow-up letter.  

The text message will be sent from +44 7860 039092 - please be assured that this is a real message and is not a scam message (example pictured, right).

Will I still receive my hospital letters by post?

Once you have viewed your letter online, you will not receive a paper copy. If you are unable to view your letter online or do not click on the link from the text that is sent, we will send your outpatient appointment letters to you by post.

If you change your mind and would prefer a paper copy sent to you by post, you can update your letter preferences via the DrDoctor online service.

Important note: With current Royal Mail postal strikes, there may be a delay with receiving your letters. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to sign up to DrDoctor to view your letters online.

Electronic consent for treatment or a procedure at our hospitals

The way patients give their consent to treatments and procedures at hospitals across Hertfordshire and west Essex is changing.

A new electronic consent system (eConsent) has been introduced to replace the paper consent forms to help improve patient experience and help relieve pressure on services as they recover from the pandemic.

We are the first hospital to start using the eConsent system, which is called Concentric. The new system was first used in the obstetrics and gynaecology and orthopaedics departments, before rolling out to other areas.

East and North Hertfordshire Hospital NHS Trust and West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospital NHS Trust are also introducing the eConsent system.

The eConsent system enables patients to see information about their treatment and provide their consent online. The system uses a secure link sent by email and/or text message. Patients can also consent for procedures using a computer or tablet. If patients do not have a device at home, they can also give their consent online during an appointment or on the ward.

Moving to an electronic consent system:

  • Allows patients to have more time to review and understand information
  • Means fewer cancellations and delays to surgery/treatment
  • Saves time for clinicians and hospital administrators, allowing more time to care
  • Enables more personalised information and better documentation
  • Offers better patient engagement in shared decision making
  • Enables remote consultations and care pathways; a face-to-face appointment isn’t always needed before the day of treatment.

All patient information is compliant with healthcare governance requirements. The system uses Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for all hosting and data processing, within a data centre in the UK.

How will I be contacted by Concentric?

You may receive information from your clinician via the Concentric system, either as an email from the email address notifications@concentric.health or as text message from a mobile contact named ‘Concentric'.

You can see the information any time before or after treatment.

What technology do I need to be able to give my consent online?

Concentric works on any modern web-enabled device and on different screen sizes (i.e., mobiles, tablets, laptops and desktop computers). Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple, Safari or Mozilla Firefox are fully supported by Concentric.

What do I do if I need technical help to use Concentric?

If you are having any issue in getting started with Concentric please email the Concetric support team.

What do I do if I have a question about the planned treatment/procedure?

Although you may receive consent information online, you will still have had a conversation about the proposed treatment/procedure with the clinician responsible for your care. The information you receive from Concentric will include contact details for the hospital/department in case you have any follow-up questions.

What to bring with you to your appointment

What to bring with you:

  • Your appointment letter or booking reference number
  • Medication
  • GP name, address and phone number
  • Specimens you were asked to bring

Attending your appointment

It is important that you attend your appointment. If you are unable to attend, we ask that you let us know with as much notice as possible.

If you do not attend your appointment, you may be referred back to your GP.

Hospital transport

Whenever possible, you should make your own travel arrangements. Please arrange for a friend or relative to drop you off and pick you up, or ask the ward team about arranging a taxi. You can view information about available public transport here. Hospital transport is only available for those who meet the criteria.

Arriving for your outpatient appointment

Please be aware that outpatients’ appointments take place across all of our sites: The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, St Margaret's Hospital in Epping and Herts and Essex Hospital in Bishop’s Stortford.

On your appointment letter it will state what hospital you need to go to and more information about how to get to your appointment

On arrival

Checking in at the clinic

When you arrive, please check in at the outpatients’ reception desk. The receptionist will ask you a few questions to confirm your identity, such as your date of birth, your GP, address and phone number.

We may ask if your address or phone number has changed to make sure we have the correct contact details for any correspondence we may send to you.

Once you have checked in, you will be asked to take a seat in the appropriate waiting area.

Waiting for your appointment

We appreciate your patience if there are any delays - our people will always keep you informed. If you would like to talk to someone about your appointment, please speak to the receptionist or clinic nurse.

People are seen in order of their appointment time, not in order of their arrival. In exceptional circumstances, some appointments may be prioritised if clinically urgent.

What happens?

You will meet a member of the consultant led team for your appointment - it may not always be necessary for you to meet a consultant.

After your appointment

Prescriptions

If the doctor decides that new medication is required for treatment, in most circumstances, you will be given a prescription for a minimum of one week’s supply, which you should take to your local pharmacy. There is a standard prescription charge per item. After this time, you will need to get a further supply from your GP. There are some exceptions to this, if your medication can only be supplied by the hospital. In these circumstances, the doctor will explain to you what to do.

Please also remember that your regular repeat medication must always be obtained through your GP.

Follow-up appointments

If you have been given a follow-up appointment, please be aware, if your appointment is in:

Under six weeks: You must return to the outpatient reception desk after your appointment to book in your next appointment. A letter will be sent confirming this appointment.

Over six weeks: A letter will be sent to you asking you to book your appointment.  

Pharmacies

The pharmacy at The Princess Alexandra Hospital is located on the ground floor in the main building, Zone B, location B24.

Pharmacies in Harlow:

Harlow Pharmacy: Wych Elm, Harlow, CM20 1QR

Medicare Pharmacy: 1 Sumners Hatch, Harlow, CM19 5RD

Well Pharmacy: Market House, Essex, CM20 1BL

Inpatient comment:

Everyone offered words of such reassurance and kindness. I felt so cared for and the communication with me at all times was fantastic.