Patients encouraged to ask three key questions with launch of new campaign

Monday, 29 February 2016

North Bristol NHS Trust is encouraging patients to be more involved in their healthcare by asking key questions during appointments.

People are being empowered to take a more active role in decisions around their care as part of a campaign called Ask 3 Questions, which is launched within the Trust today (Monday, February 29).

By asking the right questions during consultations with their doctors, nurses and therapists, patients can consider their options and choose the right treatment for them with the support of their healthcare professional.

The three questions are:

  • What are my options?
  • What are the possible benefits and risks of those options?
  • What help do I need to make my decision?

Ask 3 Questions is initially being launched as a pilot in the Rheumatology, Colorectal Surgery and Vascular Surgery departments at Southmead Hospital and patients will be prompted to ask the three questions with postcards and leaflets they will be given when they attend their appointments. There is also space on the postcards to add additional questions ahead of their consultation.

During the pilot patients will be asked to fill in a questionnaire, which will enable the Trust to evaluate if patients and clinicians feel it is a useful approach.

Head of Patient Experience at North Bristol NHS Trust is encouraging patients to get involved with Ask 3 Questions

North Bristol NHS Trust Head of Patient Experience, Gill Brook, said: “Ask 3 Questions is important because it helps people to get the right information at the right time and in the right place.

“We also hope it will help patients feel more empowered to ask questions and talk through options with health professional so that  that they can make choices that are right for them.”

Lead Rheumatology Consultant, Professor Jonathan Tobias said: “An important part of consultations is talking about what treatment options are available. Often there are different choices and each one has different sets of pros and cons and it is important to try and find the right treatment for the right patient.

“These are the kind of discussions that patients are often not that used to having and in order for them and their doctor to get the most out of the consultation and maximise the chances of getting on the right treatment, it is important that people have thought about these questions as much as they can before they go in, and maybe to have written them down.”

Colorectal Lead, Surgeon Anne Pullyblank said: “Coming to an outpatient appointment can be quite stressful and it is easy to forget to ask questions and to get all the information you want.

“Sometimes treatments can be complicated and there are lots of different options and making sure patients have fully weighed up all the options is important, so having a prompt to remind you to focus on three things can be really helpful.”

Consultant Vascular Surgeon Andy Weale said: “We want to give patients the confidence, and to know that it’s OK, to ask questions when seeing a specialist.  We hope that using the ‘Ask 3 questions’ approach will help patients get a treatment that is tailored to their needs and concerns.”