Patient Information

Patient Initiated Follow-up (PIFU)


This information is about a way of managing follow-up appointments for some patients who have been treated in hospital or who already have regular appointments for a long term condition.

What is PIFU?

If patient has been treated in hospital or has a longer-term condition that is treated by a hospital service, we would typically book follow-up appointments to see how they are getting on. These are booked in for a specific date and time.

Instead of this, we are offering some patients the option of not having a follow-up appointment booked in or, for patients with longer-term conditions, having regular appointments less frequently.

Instead, patients contact us only if they need to. This is called Patient initiated follow-up (PIFU).

PIFU means that you book an appointment or contact a specialist if you have symptoms relating to your condition.

How does it work?

If your specialist thinks you would suit PIFU, they will explain it to you. You can agree to PIFU or choose to have a routine follow-up appointment on a set date instead.

If you choose PIFU:

  1. We will tell you the time-scales involved. This will depend on the procedure or condition you are being treated for.
  2. We explain when to contact us. This will be if you get certain symptoms or do not recover as we expect. If you develop another, unrelated health problem, you still have to get help in the usual way (such as contacting your GP, NHS 111 or emergency [A&E] department).
  3. We will explain what to look out for.
  4. If you get any symptoms or have concerns about your condition you should contact us, tell us you are on PIFU, and explain your symptoms.
  5. We will then contact you within 3 days to offer you an appointment.
  6. If you do not need to contact us, you will either be discharged from the care of the hospital or if you have a longer-term condition, you will see us at your next follow-up. If we discharge you, you then need to contact your GP for any future problems.
Visual for PIFU

Who will be offered PIFU?

Not all patients will be offered the option of PIFU. It is only suitable for patients who are able to:

  • self-manage their condition by looking out for specific symptoms
  • contact us when they need an appointment.

What are the benefits of PIFU?

  • With PIFU, you still have full access to support from a hospital specialist when you need it.
  • You only book an appointment or contact a specialist when you have symptoms relating to your condition.
  • You are in control of when you get care and treatment.
  • You may spend less time attending hospital appointments.
  • Feedback from patients using PIFU is that they avoid unnecessary trips to hospital. This saves them time, money and stress.
  • Research has shown that planned follow-up appointments do not help to prevent conditions returning or lead to new problems being identified.

Why have I been offered PIFU?

You and your hospital specialist have agreed that PIFU is the best option for you.

It is important that you look out for changes in symptoms and that you are confident to contact us about them.

How do I book a PIFU appointment?

If you have any worrying symptoms or feel concerned about your condition, contact the relevant department and say that you are on PIFU. They will:

  • ask you to describe your symptoms
  • ask if you have any special requirements that we need to take into account when we organise your appointment
  • pass this information to the specialist team.

You will not be given any clinical advice during these initial contacts.

The department will get in touch with you within 72 hours (3 days) to arrange a phone or face-to-face appointment.

Tell us straight away if your situation changes and you no longer need your appointment or need to change your appointment date.  We will then be able to offer your appointment to someone else.

PIFU is not a replacement for urgent medical advice

If you need urgent advice, do not wait for a PIFU appointment.

Contact your GP if you have symptoms that are not listed.

Contact your GP, NHS 111 or a local walk-in centre if you need urgent medical advice.

Go to your local Emergency Department (A&E) if you need urgent medical assistance.

Will you still be looking after me if I do not call for a PIFU appointment?  

If you do not call for a PIFU appointment:

  • You will be discharged automatically after a specified period of time, normally 6 months. Your specialist will tell you the exact timeframe OR
  • If you have a longer-term condition or illness, you will still have regular appointments with us but they will not happen as frequently; there is more time between routine appointments. Your specialist will tell you how often these will take place.

What if I have a special communication need?

Tell your hospital department or ask someone else to contact us if you have a special communication need. We will offer information and communication in a format that you find easy to use and understand.  We can provide large print if you have eyesight problems, or written communication and face-to-face appointments if you are deaf or hard of hearing, or easy read information if you have a learning disability.

Tell us whether an online or face-to-face appointment will best meet your needs.

We want your feedback to improve our services

We appreciate feedback and our hospital departments are happy receive your comments at any time.

You can give quick anonymous feedback about PIFU by:
Scanning this QR code with a smartphone or tablet or
clicking PIFU Feedback Survey if you are reading this leaflet online. Or
go to our PIFU department page on the Kingston Hospital website.

Alternatively, you can call PALS on 020 8934 3993 to give feedback by phone.

If you do not want to take part in surveys, you can tell us by contacting your hospital department or by choosing to ‘opt out’ of the national programme that allows confidential information about you to be used for research and planning. Visit this website to learn more and to opt out.

Make your choice about sharing data from your health records – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Patient Initiated Follow-up (PIFU) - Kingston Hospital Download PDF

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