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Telephone Clinic Saves Arthritis Sufferers a Trip to Hospital

11 April 2005

An innovative approach to patient care is saving patients with early arthritis a trip to hospital.

Nurse specialist Ruth Slack runs the telephone clinic from West Suffolk Hospital once a week. It is for patients who are taking Methotrexate, a drug which is used to treat several different types of rheumatic disease, including rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.

Ordinarily, patients who have just started taking Methotrexate medication would have to go to hospital to see a nurse or doctor to have their medication monitored. Now patients are sent a letter giving them seven to ten days notice of the date and time that the nurse specialist will call. It is an opportunity for patients to discuss their condition and for the nurse to check the patient is taking Methotrexate safely.

A recent patient survey has shown that the clinic has been a great success and patients find the telephone approach more comfortable, they donšt have to take time off work and it saves them a journey to hospital.

Rheumatology Nurse Specialist Ruth Slack said: "For many people with arthritis a journey can be uncomfortable. This is an innovative way of saving these patients an unnecessary visit and help in dealing with clinic pressures.

"Feedback from a patient survey has been very positive. Patients do not have to use the telephone clinic. But the vast majority of patients prefer to be treated in this way because they do not have to take time off from work, relatives can also ask questions, and patients are more relaxed."



West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust