Already in the five years that the Outpatients Department at Johnson Community Hospital has been open there has been a dramatic increase in the services that it offers and in the number of patients who attend.
When the department opened in 2009, we saw approximately 53,239 patients through the doors. In 2014 to date, we have already seen 11,743 more patients than by the end of 2009 and are set to see on average 2,000 more patients each month by the end of the year.
During this time, our team at Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust has worked with other health and care providers in the county to develop the range of clinics and services available locally. By doing so, we have been able to help reduce the distance patients with certain conditions have to travel for their appointments.
Next year we are pleased to be welcoming and expanding clinics run by our colleagues at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
One of the new clinics will be cataract day surgery. A cataract is cloudiness of the lens of the eye, which can become worse over time, causing vision to become increasingly blurry, hazy or cloudy. Cataract surgery is the procedure used to treat cataracts when they are affecting your daily activities and is usually carried out as day surgery under local anesthetic, which means you are awake during the procedure and you can go home on the same day.
Another clinic we are frequently being asked if we have is Rheumatology. Patients currently have to travel to King’s Lynn or Lincoln to see most specialists for this condition, however, we will soon be starting the clinics in Spalding.
The final clinic increasing available appointments in the department is Sleep Apnoea. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, interrupting normal breathing. During an episode, the lack of oxygen triggers your brain to pull you out of deep sleep, either to a lighter sleep or to wakefulness, so your airway reopens and you can breathe normally.
Most people with OSA snore loudly. Their breathing may be noisy and laboured, and it is often interrupted by gasping and snorting with each episode of apnoea.
These repeated sleep interruptions can make you feel very tired during the day. You’ll usually have no memory of your interrupted breathing, so you may be unaware you have a problem unless a partner, friend or family member notices the symptoms while you sleep.
The great advantage for patients with this clinic increase overall is that some clinics will run on a Saturday, allowing a lot more flexibility for patients to attend out of work time. However, as always, we do ask that patients let us know if they are unable to attend any of their appointments so that it can be offered to someone else.
n Thank you to Sally Brown, Outpatients Junior Sister, for contributing to this month’s column.