Article Text

Prospective assessment of patient directed outpatient communication from a patient and general practitioner perspective
  1. L Mahadavan,
  2. N J Bird,
  3. M Chadwick,
  4. I R Daniels
  1. Exeter Colorectal Unit, Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, Exeter, UK
  1. Correspondence to Ms L Mahadavan, Exeter Colorectal Unit, Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, Barrack Road, Exeter EX2 7RB, UK; lalithamahadavan{at}


Background: Following the NHS Cancer Plan of 2000, patients should automatically be offered copies of correspondence between NHS clinicians. All patients in this centre increasingly receive a copy of correspondence between the hospital clinicians and general practitioners (GPs). However, we challenged this further by providing patients with a letter written directly to them and sending a copy of this correspondence to the GP.

Methods: 125 patients were requested to complete a 22 item questionnaire to assess the satisfaction of the clinic letter and appointment between May and June 2007. We sent 234 GPs, who refer patients to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, two samples of the new style clinic letters and a 9 item structured questionnaire to assess their satisfaction with these clinic letters.

Results: The study had a 90% response rate from patients and 61% from GPs, respectively. Patients felt the clinic letters accurately reflected their clinic appointment, with 94% of patients either satisfied or highly satisfied with the clinic letters. Overall 75% of patients preferred to receive patient directed letters to receiving a copy of the GP letter. However, only 79% of GPs felt patients should routinely receive a clinic letter.

Conclusions: The majority of patients were satisfied with this new style of clinic letters and expect to receive them in the future. The high satisfaction rates could be attributed to the simple and clear language used in the letters. However, the views of patients have not been reflected by GPs, with 20% of GPs preferring to receive a personally directed letter.

  • clinical audit
  • communication
  • general practitioner
  • outpatient clinic
  • patient letter
  • surgical

Statistics from


  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained

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