Ready to take action? Outpatient services in the NHS Long Term Plan

The traditional model of outpatient care is no longer fit for purpose. NHS England’s Long Term Plan (LTP) for reform over the next five years has digital transformation at its core. But what else do organisations need to consider?
Ready to take action? Outpatient services in the NHS Long Term Plan
Jan 29th 2019

The LTP sets out a redesign of services that will allow patients to avoid up to a third of face to face outpatient visits. This will remove the need for up to 30 million outpatient visits a year.

The proposed services redesign embraces the three functions of outpatient appointments:

  1. Advice and diagnosis for a patient and their GP
  2. Follow up review after a hospital procedure
  3. Ongoing specialist input into a long-term condition


The redesign aims to:

  • Enhance the ways in which patients can access data. An NHS app will connect patients with NHS services and information including online booking systems
  • Provide better support to GPs to avoid the need for a hospital referral
  • Give patients appointments closer to home to avoid unnecessary travel
  • Offer alternatives to traditional appointments by enabling the use of ‘virtual’ outpatient appointments so that both patients’ time and specialists’ expertise are used more appropriately

Outpatient service development challenges: our view

Based on our experience of helping public service organisations transform their outpatient and digital services, there are important questions still to be considered.

  • As the provision of health and care moves towards Integrated Care System areas, how will these new areas coordinate improvement strategies and pool planning and capital resources to transform services whilst providing a strong return on investment?
  • The plans set out by NHS England require the appropriate workforce to deliver the redesign. How can the NHS make itself an attractive place for a larger number of highly skilled individuals with digital capabilities, and retain sufficient General Practitioner FTEs to avoid the need for hospital referrals?
  • With an ageing population with increasing comorbidities and shifting health needs, how will the service adapt to changing user needs?

Meeting outpatient services transformation challenges: our experience

We support the LTP’s digital focus in the redesign of outpatient services. Our experience in service transformation shows that outpatient transformation is most effective when three key aspects are addressed:

  1. Rapid improvement: We bring a proven rapid improvement approach used in outpatient and urgent care settings to deliver early success.
  2. Digital transformation: We use best-practice, user-centred design techniques, MVP agile prototyping and rigorous analysis to create digital services that meet user needs.
  3. Health models: We advise Trust boards, clinical leaders and commissioners on issues ranging from delivery of new population health models for chronic conditions to investment strategies to deliver growth and transformation.


Proven support

We have proven expertise in leading transformation of outpatient services and supporting organisations and systems in designing structures to enable digital transformation. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more about how we can support your organisation.

Authors: Audrey Lambert, Talitha Tanner and Chris Bradley