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Millions spent on missed NHS appointments

12th August 2009

New data has revealed that 6.5 million hospital appointments were missed in the UK between 2007 and 2008.

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With hospitals losing about £100 per patient in revenue in each case, the cost to the NHS is put at more than £600m.

Patient groups describe missing an appointment as unforgivable while the health workers’ union Unison said that it was not always the patient that was to blame.

It felt with appointments often arranged well in advance, and easily forgotten, more health trusts should find ways of reminding people about their appointments such as by e-mail or text alerts.

The data, provided by analysts Dr Foster and UK health departments, suggested that young men in their early 20s were the worst offenders.

Meanwhile, people aged 70-74 were most likely to keep their appointment.

Overall in the last few years, attendance figures have improved in England, Wales and Northern Ireland while the situation is getting worse in Scotland.

Unison’s head of health Karen Jennings said: "Hospitals who go down the route of over-booking, based on previous experience of missed appointments, must ensure that it doesn't disadvantage patients if there is a 100% turn-out."

But Michael Summers, vice-chair of the Patients Association, said: "We owe a responsibility to our doctors to behave properly. Missed appointments waste healthcare professionals' time and a great deal of money."

The Department of Health said initiatives such as text messages to remind patients were on the rise but with more choice, patients still had a responsibility to keep appointments or cancel within a reasonable time.

 

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