Patients miss 30,000 appointments at Derriford Hospital in a year, costing £3.5million
PATIENTS missed almost 30,000 Derriford Hospital appointments in the past year, new figures have revealed.
The number equates to more than 80 wasted slots a day – one in 20 of all outpatient appointments.
According to national estimates, missed appointments could have cost cash-strapped Derriford up to £3.5million last year.
It comes as the hospital wrestles a £54million savings plan over two years amid rising costs, a national efficiency drive and NHS restructuring.
BUY ONE GET ONE FREE - Medium Cod, Chips & Mushy Peas at...View details
Simply Purchase a Medium Cod, Chips and Mushy Peas and receive another portion for FREE.
Sustainable Cod, Fresh Cut Chips & Proper Mushy Peas.
Visit Our Website for more information and offers
Terms: Offer valid only with this Voucher, 1 voucher Per Customer. Not for use with any other offer, Not transferable to other menu items
Contact: 01752 421044
Valid until: Thursday, June 27 2013
Hospital bosses urged patients to ensure they turn up when possible and contact the NHS if they are unable to attend.
Derriford released the figures to The Herald as a national report detailed the toll of missed appointments on the NHS.
Ministers said the problem is delaying other patients' care. They called for hospitals to use more innovative solutions to tackle the issue.
Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust has introduced a telephone reminder service, but managers say more could be done to reduce the "frustrating" number of missed appointments.
They admitted the hospital is also sometimes to blame for empty slots.
Ria George, Plymouth Hospitals patient administration office co-ordinator, said: "In 2011/12 nearly 30,000 patients did not attend their appointments.
"Not only is this frustrating for the staff working in the outpatient clinics whose time could have been spent seeing another patient but also for other patients who are waiting for their appointments and could have perhaps taken one of the available slots.
"We are aware that sometimes there are good reasons why patients are not able to make their appointment, but it's important that they let us know that they are not able to attend or no longer want their appointment at the earliest opportunity.
"This prevents us from having empty slots in our clinics and allows us to offer it to someone else who can make the appointment time. We recognise that there is still work to do, as despite our attempts we still have patients who, for whatever reason, decide not to attend."
Helen O'Shea, Derriford Hospital interim chief executive, said every department has a plan to reduce the number of 'non attendees'. Some compensate by booking a higher number of patients into clinics.
Ms O'Shea added: "However, we do acknowledge that there are occasions where our own internal processes mean that patients may miss their appointments, for example letters may not be sent as quickly as they should or we may not have been informed of a patients change of address, and we are working to resolve these issues."
She added that patients with serious conditions are monitored and recalled if appointments are missed.
Since 2007 a telephone reminder service has contacted patients a week before their appointment. An automated call reminds them of their appointment and asks for confirmation they will attend.
Ms O'Shea urged patients to ensure their GP surgery has their up-to-date contact details, including mobile phone number.
Responding to the national figures, Health Minister Simon Burns said: "It is important that people realise that not turning up for their agreed appointments means other patients' care might be delayed and doctors' and nurses' time could be wasted, costing taxpayers money."
MISSED APPOINTMENTS: statistics
Derriford Hospital figures show 29,269 outpatients appointments were missed out of 498,753 in 2011/12 – a rate of almost 5.9 cent.
Numbers dropped from 30,491 out of 487,994 in 2010/11 – a rate of 6.25 per cent.
Nationally, patients missed 5.5 million hospital appointments last year, according to Department of Health figures published this week.
The figure was more than
10 per cent of outpatient appointments – ie planned appointments where patients do not have to be admitted to hospital overnight.
Derriford bosses said they could not calculate exactly how much missed appointments cost the hospital last year.
It has been reported nationally that missed appointments cost between £60 and £120 in lost revenue – equating to an estimated bill of up to £3.5million for Plymouth Hospitals.