Research Article

Shortening waiting lists in orthopaedic surgery outpatient clinics.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982; 284 doi: (Published 06 March 1982) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982;284:728
  1. R R West,
  2. B McKibbin


    There is a long waiting list for orthopaedic outpatient appointments in South Glamorgan Area Health Authority as elsewhere. A detailed study of that waiting list was undertaken to identify factors that might lead to its better management and reduction. One-third of patients on the list failed to attend when appointments were offered. A postal-questionnaire to all those listed as waiting confirmed that many no longer sought specialist orthopaedic consultation. Another third of the patients reported that they had been treated previously for the same orthopaedic problem. It is concluded that improved management of long outpatient waiting lists could be achieved by correspondence with referring general practitioners to weed out those patients who no longer wish to attend, to reduce the burden of reviews and re-referrals of patients with "chronic" conditions, and to request priorities fairly so that earlier appointments may be offered to truly "new" patients with treatable or with potentially serious conditions.