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Missed appointments pass £1m cost mark for Trust
More than 83,000 hospital appointments were missed by patients in the Bradford district last year, costing one NHS Trust more than £1 million.
A Freedom of Information request has shown that 70,430 people failed to turn up for appointments at Bradford Royal Infirmary while 12,871 appointments were missed at Airedale Hospital in 2012.
The BRI figures have risen dramatically from 2011 when there were 63,013 misses recorded and, despite the waste of time and resources, there is no penalty system.
In a bid to halt missed appointments, a spokesman for BRI said it is now looking at ways of changing its appointment system by centralising it and giving patients more choice over times.
It is also sending text reminders to outpatients and making use of the “choose and book” system at GPs’ referral surgeries.
There was less of an increase at Airedale Hospital, where the 2011 missed appointments stood at 12,527. Airedale NHS Foundation Trust estimates the number of missed appointments in 2012 lost it about £1,264,749 in income – shocking local politicians.
But BRI said that they did not record a cost, despite their missed numbers being much higher.
Bradford Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee chairman Mike Gibbons (Con, Ilkley) said the numbers were “a massive disadvantage” but any suggestion of imposing penalties on those who fail to turn up would not be realistic.
“It’s a massive disadvantage people not turning up for appointments, not just for themselves and the NHS but also for other people waiting to get even on the appointment list. It’s a waste of time, resources and money,” he said.
“The idea of penalties has been looked at in the past but, I don’t think it’s a step the NHS wants to take. Collecting penalties would be difficult in reality. It’s a matter of individual responsibility for making sure if you need an appointment you must keep it.”
Andrew Catto, executive medical director at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said rolling out a text reminder service across its outpatients clinics has made sure the level of its missed appointments has remained stable.
A BRI spokesman said: “We know there are genuine reasons why some patients miss appointments but it does have a real impact on our work and other patients who are waiting for appointments.
“We are centralising the way we manage appointments and working to give patients more choice over the time of appointments to help reduce the number that are missed.
“We are also trying different ways to improve communication, such as sending reminders to patients via SMS text messages to increase attendance at outpatient clinics.
“However, we urge patients where possible to let us know if they’re unable to attend so that we can help rearrange the appointment to a more convenient time or give it to somebody else who is waiting for one.”
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