Missed hospital appointments cost NHS £10million a year

Ipswich Hospital Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Ipswich Hospital Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

More than 1,500 appointments were missed each week at hospitals in Ipswich, Colchester and Bury St Edmunds last year, costing the NHS more than £10million.

West Suffolk Hospital received an outstanding rating from the CQC in January 2018 Picture: GREGG BRO

West Suffolk Hospital received an outstanding rating from the CQC in January 2018 Picture: GREGG BROWN

Figures have revealed that 68,238 patients at both Ipswich and Colchester hospitals did not attend outpatient appointments in 2018 and failed to notify East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) in advance.

With each hospital outpatient appointment costing the NHS an average of £125, this means more than £8.5m worth of appointments were missed at both Ipswich and Colchester.

At West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, 17,167 people missed appointments last year, costing West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust more than £2.1m, according to the national average.

The number of patients who notified the trusts in advance on the day of the appointment was 34,458 at Ipswich and Colchester and 41,091 at West Suffolk in 2018.

Colchester Hospital Picture: ARCHANT

Colchester Hospital Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Gregg Brown

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Nicky Leach, director of logistics and patient services at ESNEFT, said: “We understand there are a whole range of reasons why patients have to cancel their appointment, or can’t attend.

“We just ask that they let us know as soon as they reasonably can so we can reallocate that appointment slot to someone else who needs it.”

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Alex Baldwin, deputy chief operating officer at the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We urge all patients to let our appointments team know as soon as possible if they can’t attend an appointment with us.

“The sooner we know, the more chance we have of offering that time to someone else who really needs it, and rearranging appointments for those that can’t make it.

“We do try to mitigate this from happening with individual appointment reminders, for example, but we do still need our patients’ support to reduce the amount of appointments missed unnecessarily.”

In October it was revealed that an online tool would be rolled out across 11 more hospitals following a trial in a bid to reduce the number of missed appointments and save the NHS money.

The DrDoctor tool allows patients to book and change medical appointments online, receive text reminders and provides access to maps to guide patients to the right department.

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