Hospital post shake-up plan

A CASH-strapped Suffolk hospital is believed to be looking into the idea of texting and emailing important information to patients - rather using the post - in the wake of Royal Mail's massive shake-up of the postal pricing system.

A CASH-strapped Suffolk hospital is believed to be looking into the idea of texting and emailing important information to patients - rather using the post - in the wake of Royal Mail's massive shake-up of the postal pricing system.

Royal Mail has just introduced its Pricing in Proportion system which post bosses say is designed to reflect the real cost of sending letters and parcels.

In the wake of that West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust says it has given guidance to staff about the new system - but it is also looking at the financial impact of the postal charging situation “very carefully”.

And the trust is also “taking the opportunity” to look at ways in which information is sent out to patients.


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These ways are believed to include emails and text messages as a way of communicating with the people the trust serves.

Concerns have been voiced about the impact using alternatives to the old fashioned letter might have in terms of patient confidentiality - though the trust has vouched that such concerns would also be at the top of its agenda should any changes be made in the future.

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Marion Fairman-Smith, of the trust's Public and Patient Involvement Forum, said: “I agree with them looking at ways of saving money and I agree with them looking at new ways of communicating.

“Some patients may be concerned about confidentiality because it is so easy slip up on.

“The trust is very aware of confidentiality and they are very good on that issue.

“It would, ultimately, have to be down to the patients as to how they were communicated with. It would have to be discussed before it went ahead. There would be some who would not be able to be communicated with by means other than the old fashioned letter.

“But I have nothing against the hospital looking at it and talking to us and patients about different methods of communicating. There are so many ways of communicating.”

A spokeswoman for the trust said: “We are not expecting it (Royal Mail's new Pricing in Proportion) to cause a massive problem, but we will monitor the financial situation very carefully. We are taking the opportunity to look at the ways we send out information to patients.

“This process is at an extremely early stage and nothing is set is stone. We will be looking at as wide a range of ideas as possible. Anything that does come along in the future would be looked at very carefully in terms of patient confidentiality.”

Guidance given to staff over the new PIP system includes using small envelopes whenever possible and to tray and avoid sending packets when items could be repackaged as large letters.

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