Remote clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic
As you are most likely aware, we have been utilising telephone clinics to review many of our patients due to the safety concerns regarding COVID-19. This may be a new experience for you and therefore we have put together some information that may help you get the most out of your appointment with us.
When will I be called?
The doctor/nurse will call you within the specified time on your appointment letter. If we don’t get through to you on the first attempt, we do usually try again within that time period. Although it is difficult for us to give you a specific time that we will call, please try to ensure you are in a comfortable private environment. If you know you’ll be outside your home, for example, at work, please consider where you can go to have privacy in advance of your appointment to maximise the time for the consultation.
If you can’t make your telephone appointment, please do let us know so that we can re-schedule it. This ensures we don’t keep ringing you when you’re not available and we can offer the appointment to someone else.
English isn’t my first language - Am I able to have an interpreter?
We have access to telephone interpreters and therefore if needed, we can use their service to carry out the telephone consultation. Please do let us know what languages you speak prior to your appointment.
I have a hearing impairment and I’m worried I won’t be able to hear you on the phone.
If you prefer, with your consent, we can talk to a family member or friend who is with you at the time. They can then relay our questions to you. If you would rather not do this, please let us know and we can discuss whether you would prefer to attend for a face-to face appointment.
What will I be asked?
Similar to what happens when you come to clinic at the hospital, depending on whether this is your first clinic with us or are already under our care, we will ask questions to gauge how active your condition is. This will include asking how you have generally been and then more specific questions relating to your diagnosis.
I have rheumatoid arthritis - what questions may I be asked?
During your telephone review, we will usually ask if you have any tender (sore to touch) or swollen joints. Specifically we will want to know if any of your hand, elbow, wrist, shoulder or knee joints are affected, as these help us calculate your disease activity (using a score called the DAS28 score). The charity ‘Versus Arthritis’ and the British Society of Rheumatology have very helpfully produced an excellent video to help explain how you can do this at home (Joint examination video link). They have also produced a sheet to help you easily document your findings: you can download the pdf here (https://bit.ly/3mn9kMq) or find the link in the text below their video. It would be very helpful (but not essential) if you could find the time to work out how many of these joints are affected before your appointment.
We may also ask for your global health visual assessment score (VAS score) which is a score between 0 and 100. This is how you rate your general state of heath over the last week, with 0 being very well and 100 being very poorly. Again, it can be useful to consider this score before your appointment.
Will I be able to come for a review at the hospital?
If we feel following your telephone review that it is necessary to see you in person we will arrange for you to come for a face to face assessment.