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Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust

For outpatients

What is Patient Initiated Follow Up (PIFU)? 

We’re changing the way we deliver outpatient care to better suit you.

We’re putting you in control and giving you more choice over how and when you access your care so it’s easier and more convenient to receive specialist care in a way that better suits your lifestyle and preferences.

Many patients with long term conditions, or following hospital treatment, do not always need follow-up appointments at routine intervals.

Instead, some patients will be offered patient initiated follow-up appointments (PIFU for short). This is where you can arrange a follow-up appointment as and when you need it, for instance when your symptoms flare up or if your circumstances change.

This means you avoid unnecessary appointments, saving you time, money and stress and means better access to follow-up care when you do need it.

If PIFU is available and suitable for you, the healthcare professional responsible for your care will discuss this option with you and if you are happy, they will ask you to arrange your appointments in this way in future.

If you think PIFU might work for you, ask us about it at your next appointment with us.

How it works

Your healthcare professional will discuss with you the symptoms to look out for that would mean you should make an appointment and how to contact the service if you need to.

You will get the chance to discuss any concerns you might have. Depending on your condition, this might replace your routine follow-ups that you might have had in the past.

You will also be told whether your PIFU has an end date. If you think you need to be seen again after that date, you will need a new referral.

How do I book an appointment?

It is quick and easy to book an appointment when you need one. To do so, you should contact us using the contact details provided to you by the healthcare professional responsible for your care.

If you have lost these details, do not worry, you can telephone us on 01604 634700 and a member of the team will assist you.

To arrange a PIFU appointment you must:

  • Have agreed with the healthcare professional responsible for your care that PIFU is appropriate for you and have been given the relevant information confirming you are on the PIFU pathway;
  • Contact us within the timeframe advised by your healthcare professional.

Northampton General Hospital outpatient contact centre

The contact centre handles patient initiated calls concerning any re-arrangement outpatient appointments and any other outpatient enquiries.

The specialties that are using the outpatient contact centre already are detailed below with their contact number. The current opening hours of the outpatient contact centre are 08:30 – 16:30

Specialties and contact numbers
DirectoratePhone Number
Head & Neck Appointments (excluding Audiology) 01604 523200
Vascular Appointments 01604 523890
Ophthalmology New Appointments 01604 523925
Ophthalmology Follow up Appointments 01604 545485
Trauma & Orthopaedics Appointments 01604 523800
General Surgery Appointments 01604 523890
Urology Appointments 01604 523890

We are improving our outpatient services and working towards providing:

  • A single point of contact for our patients
  • Easier ways to reschedule appointments
  • Answers to patient queries
  • A better working environment for our teams
  • A more efficient service

Important information relating to your appointment

This section contains important information to prepare you for your appointment including:

Before you arrive

Your first appointment and letter

You will be sent, or may have already received an appointment letter, detailing arrangements for your appointment with a specialist in an outpatient clinic.

In the letter you will find details of:

  • The date and time of your appointment

  • The location of your appointment

  • The name of the specialist/team responsible for your care

  • A telephone number for you to ring if you need to cancel or change your appointment, or if you require any other help or advice

Please let us know as soon as possible if you need to cancel or change your appointment.

Things to bring with you

Your appointment letter and a face covering.

  • Any medicines or tablets you are taking (if possible please bring these in their original containers)

  • Any samples asked for in your appointment letter

  • Money for prescriptions or an exemption certificate

  • A list questions you want to ask.

Cancelling your appointment

If for any reason you are not able to keep your appointment, please tell us as soon as possible by calling the number on your letter, so that we can give your appointment to another patient.

When you arrive

Finding us

If you are unsure where your appointment is within the hospital, please ask:

  • at main reception (Cliftonville entrance)

  • one of our volunteer guides, or,

  • any member of staff

At the clinic

When you arrive, please book in with the clinic receptionist. Please help us by arriving for your appointment on time. It is helpful if you remember to bring your appointment letter with you so that the receptionist can locate your information quickly. The receptionist will ask you a number of questions to make sure that our records are up to date, including:

  • Your address including the full postcode.

  • Your day-time and evening telephone numbers.

  • Your GP’s name and address.

  • Your next of kin’s name and address your NHS number.

  • Specimens (if requested)

After reporting to the clinic reception you will be asked to take a seat in the waiting area. As there may be limited seating and space here, we do request that you only bring one relative or friend with you to the clinic. Exceptions are made for patients with young children.

The clinic nurse will let you know when the doctor is ready to see you. The nurse may also carry out some provisional tests, such as testing your urine or measuring your blood pressure. Doctors, nurses, therapists and clerical staff all work within the outpatient areas and can be identified by their security badges.

Waiting times

During your first outpatient visit, please expect to be at the hospital for at least two hours, as you may need to have various tests and x-rays. We will try not to keep you for more than 30 minutes after your appointment time.


Sometimes appointments are delayed. This is usually for a good reason, but clinic staff should always tell you why a delay has occurred. Arriving early for your appointment does not mean we will see you earlier.

Health care students

We train health care professionals at Northampton General Hospital. So that our students get practical experience, we allow them to get involved in the treatment and care of patients.

Please tell the clinic nurse if you don’t want students to be involved in your care. Your care will not be affected in any way by your decision.

Consenting to treatment

We want to make sure that you fully understand your condition, the treatment options available and the procedure/treatment you are about to have. Before you receive any treatment, the doctor will explain what he or she is recommending and will answer any questions you may have. This explanation should involve the risks, benefits and any alternatives. Following this explanation you may be asked to sign a consent form. You are able to refuse treatment at any time.

Staff should make sure you are fully involved in your care and understand the treatment plan being proposed. It is important to ask questions if you are unsure about anything.

Your personal information

When you come to hospital, we ask you for information to help with your care. We keep this information on file, in case you need to be treated again in the future. The information remains confidential.

You have the right to access your health records. Should you require access, please write to the Health Records Manager, Northampton General Hospital, Cliftonville, Northampton NN1 5BD.

Copying letters

Unless you tell your NGH consultant otherwise, you will automatically receive a copy of letters written by one health professional to another about you. We believe that sharing these letters will help improve communications between you and your health professionals.

No smoking

We want to ensure that our hospital is a safe, healthy and pleasant place for all patients, staff and visitors. Smoking is not permitted anywhere on our site – either inside or outside buildings or in open areas such as car parks. We ask all patients, visitors and staff to refrain from smoking whilst on the hospital site.

As you leave the hospital

Please go back to the clinic reception desk before you leave the hospital.

If you need more tests

After some appointments you might need more tests or procedures. If you do, you might need to arrange another appointment. The receptionist will tell you how to arrange a time that is convenient for you.

If you need to see the doctor again

We will give you another appointment before you leave the hospital. Sometimes we might need to change an appointment. We will tell you in advance if this happens with your appointment.

Please notify the hospital at the earliest opportunity if you change your address, telephone number or GP.

If you don't need to come back to the clinic

Please tell the receptionist if the doctor tells you that don’t need to come back to the clinic, or you need to come into hospital as an inpatient.  

If you need tablets or medicines

You may be prescribed tablets or medicines following your consultation.

If these need to be started straight away you will be given a prescription. Green prescriptions (that look like ones from your GP) should be taken to a community pharmacy (chemist). White prescriptions can only be dispensed by the hospital pharmacy. This is located centrally on Hospital Street, and is open from 9.00am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday and 10.00am - 1.00 pm on Saturdays.

If medicines don't need to be started straight away, the hospital doctor will write to your GP with advice. Your GP will not be able to give you a prescription straight away - they usually ask for at least two working days notice.

Prescription charges apply to hospital prescriptions in the same way as those from your GP.

Waiting time in Pharmacy. The hospital pharmacy provides medicines for in-patients, out-patients, day-patients and to some other local hospitals and hospices. The workload is unpredictable and sometimes prescriptions need to be clarified with doctors. There is usually a wait; this could be up to an hour. Pharmacy staff will keep you informed and you should ask them any questions about your medicines if you are unsure or need more information.


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