To Phone or Not to Phone that is the Question

Posted on 31 August, 2012 by MOVEHUT

If you no longer needed an appointment at your local doctor’s or the hospital would you call to inform them or simply leave it?

Apparently one in ten people missed an appointment at an NHS establishment last year, but they failed to inform the commercial property that they could no longer attend their appointment.

This equates to around 250,000 missed appointments in a year alone. But people don’t think about the consequences of missing just one appointment and what effects that one appointment could have on a whole hospital.

Missing an appointment not only costs the NHS millions of pounds, but also delays other patients from being seen quicker, which could be costing lives.

For example; person one could be waiting for a scan at the hospital for suspected gall stones and wait six weeks for their appointment, but person two has an appointment next week which they can no longer attend. Person two decides not to call, meaning that person one or anyone else on the waiting list cannot have their scan sooner. When person one finally attends their scan weeks later, they find out that their gall stone is in fact a tumour. If person two had phoned in to cancel their appointment, person one could have been seen earlier and could already be receiving treatment.

Obviously this is hypothetically speaking, but people need to think about the consequences of not cancelling appointments, as Simon Burns, the Health Minister 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.

“Patients often have genuine reasons to miss an appointment, but it can have a big impact on the care we can offer to other patients. It is important that the public understand we have responsibilities too, like not wasting precious NHS resources.”

To combat the issue, some hospitals have started sending patients a text message reminding them of their appointment. But one hospital in particular has already gone a step further. Newham University Hospital has started doing appointments via Skype for diabetes patients who don’t need a physical examination.

“I’m glad to see that the NHS is increasingly using simple ideas such as texting their patients before an appointment or seeing them via Skype. These could have a dramatic impact and I want to see more hospitals making use of them,” Mr Burns added.




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