Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Practice Essentials

Writing outpatient letters to patients

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 27 January 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m24

Linked Opinion

Writing letters directly to patients puts them at the centre of their care

Rapid Response:

Re: Writing outpatient letters to patients

Dear Editor,
I read your article with keen interest. For over last 9 years, I have been communicating with healthcare clients directly with a copy sent to their NHS GP’s with their expressed consent in the private care setting. I prefer to use the term healthcare clients, not patients to emphasize the importance of treating as empowered partners in shared decision making for their own health care and change the perception of healthcare providers/ organisations. The clinic review letter with a plan of care is being sent electronically via personal email in an encrypted password protected pdf format. Despite having very positive feedback from clients in private care setting, due to inertia, inherent resistance to change and scepticism of not being able to communicate freely with other care providers especially NHS GP with some sensitive information, I have been unable to introduce this practice within the NHS unit.

I am proud of the Founding principles of NHS and an active participant in providing the world-class evidenced healthcare within the NHS and its constraints of resources.

But I personally feel that the current practice of communicating healthcare information of the clients to the NHS GP and sometimes copy to the client needs a paradigm shift to embrace the otherwise day to day common practice of using emails, text message, video consultations to communicate directly with our clients. From my experience, this empowers, improves compliance to the proposed healthcare intervention and most importantly serves the fundamental purpose through education of the clients to take charge of their own healthcare.

Likewise, the communication needs to be improved between healthcare provider in an acute care setting (Rapid Response Force) where decades-old bleep system is used affecting the response time to the detriment of the quality of care.

I, therefore, feel that we urgently need to remove the disparity between the two sides of our world-class NHS healthcare system where on one side robot-assisted surgery is being performed over 5G network and on the other side the clinic/ procedure letters are being sent to the GP and our clients need to apply for their own healthcare records through ‘ proper channel’.

Competing interests: No competing interests

16 February 2020
Sachchidananda Maiti
Consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician, MD FRCOG, Medicolegal Expert Witness-CUBS
Pall Mall Medical, Manchester, UK
61A King street, Manchester, M2 4PD