Ipswich Hospital has launched a new portal allowing patients to view appointment letters and details online.

The portal, which can be accessed through a secure sign-up process, aims to reduce paper appointment letters.

Through signing up to the portal, patients will gain more control over their appointments, be able to access information anytime and anywhere and a reduced chance of lost appointment letters.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of the hospital, said: “We know that one of the things that causes our patients and their families additional stress is how confusing it can be to keep track of correspondence with the hospital.

“Almost 600,000 appointments are booked at Ipswich Hospital each year, which generates an enormous number of letters and other administration work for our patients, not to mention the travel that is involved with coming to hospital.

“A lost letter or forgotten appointment can create a lot of unnecessary stress and wasted time.”

The system, supplied by healthcare appointment booking service Zesty, will be rolled out across Ipswich Hospital over the coming months, with plans to expand it to Colchester Hospital during 2020.

The next time an appointment is booked, patients with a registered mobile number will be sent a text message inviting them to sign up to the system.

Elizabeth Pinder, lead consultant for the portal, said: “The feedback we’ve had from patients so far has been really positive. It is voluntary so people can continue to receive paper appointment letters if they wish.

“The people using the portal are telling us that it is easy to sign up and view their appointment details. This can only be good for our patients.”

The hospital plans to update the portal over time to allow patients to change their details, request changes to appointments and communicate with doctors, nurses and therapists.

James Balmain, chief executive of Zesty, said: “The portal is currently reading information from Lorenzo at Ipswich, with Colchester, who use Medway, going live early in the new year.

“During 2020 we’ll deploy write integration into both EPR platforms, allowing patients to self-report their own data and manage their outpatient appointments directly in each system, negating the need for trust staff to manually intervene.

“The initial response has been fantastic, over 2,000 patients have signed up to the portal in the first 4 weeks, mirroring the results we’re seeing with our other NHS Trust clients.”