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Printed at: 12:04:17 / 21-09-2021

Patient Initiated Follow-Up (PIFU)

What is Patient Initiated Follow-Up (PIFU)?

PIFU puts you in control of making a follow-up appointment when you need it and provides you with direct access to guidance when you need it.

Most patients with stable long-term conditions do not require regular follow up by the hospital team. Instead of being offered regular clinic visits and routine check-ups with your consultant, PIFU patients can make their own appointment only when they need it e.g., when you experience a flare-up of your condition. This will reduce any unnecessary anxiety, travel, and time spent waiting for a routine follow-up.

Research has shown that having a regular outpatient follow up does not help to prevent conditions returning or identify new problems. In fact, many people find that follow up visits to the hospital cause a lot of unnecessary anxiety.

PIFU can help reduce unnecessary visits to hospital, reduce patient waiting times and release clinical teams to see more patients in a timely manner.

PIFU may be suitable for most patients with stable long-term conditions or following a hospital treatment in the Emergency Department (ED) or as an inpatient and for some post-operative conditions.

How does it work?

If PIFU is suitable for you, your healthcare professional will discuss your condition with you and add your name to the PIFU appointment list. Instead of being given routine follow-up clinic appointments, you will be able to contact the service directly to arrange a follow-up appointment, if you feel you need it.

Your healthcare professional will then advise on the symptoms you need to watch out for and provide you with a guide to help you decide whether you need to make an appointment if your symptoms have returned or got worse. If you experience any problems with your condition, or complications after treatment, please use the information on the guide card to contact the service to arrange a PIFU appointment.

You will also be told how long you will stay on the PIFU waiting list and this will be determined by your clinical condition. If you do not need to see the doctor or nurse about your condition within the specified period following your last appointment, you will be discharged back to your GP who will re-refer you if you need to be seen again in the future.

How do I book a follow-up appointment?

If you experience a flare-up, call the number on your PIFU leaflet, and explain to the team that you are experiencing a flare-up and you need to be seen. The team will agree a suitable appointment date and time over the telephone. Please note that the operator cannot give any clinical advice.

Following your appointment, your consultant will discuss with you whether to remain on PIFU or revert to regular appointments.

Please note, to arrange a PIFU appointment you must:

  • Have been told by your healthcare professional that this is appropriate for you
  • Have received an explanation from your healthcare professional on how and when to contact the service if you need to make an appointment
  • Make contact within the timeframe advised by your clinician

When should I call for a PIFU?

You should call the PIFU line if you are experiencing a flare-up of your condition and need to be seen. Your PIFU card will highlight symptoms to look out for to help you decide when you need to contact us.

When not to use PIFU

If you require urgent medical advice, you should contact your GP or NHS 111, or if you are unwell, your local Emergency Department (ED). For all other concerns, or if you are feeling unwell, your GP remains your first point of contact.

Will you still be looking after me if I do not call for a PIFU?

Yes, we will contact you to arrange a follow-up appointment if you have not contacted us after a set timescale. This will be between one to two years (depending on your condition). Your consultant will agree and set this timescale during your clinic appointment depending on your condition.

My clinician has not mentioned PIFU

PIFU is a new initiative being implemented from August 2021 onwards and hence not applicable to all appointments currently.

PIFU is not appropriate to all patients, as detailed above.

Please follow the guidance given by your clinician.

The links to leaflets for specialties will be added here.

To view the Rheumatology patient follow-up leaflet, please click here.