Public urged to help NHS England cut no-show appointments
Technology is being used to cut the numbers of missed GP and outpatient appointments, NHS England will announced Monday.
Figures have suggested that more than twelve million GP appointments are missed each year in the UK, costing in excess of £162 million per year. A further 6.9 million outpatient hospital appointments are missed each year in the UK, costing an average of £108 per appointment in 2012/13.
By making the appointment system fit into patient’s lives more easily, the NHS hopes to cut the numbers of missed appointments, saving precious NHS resources.
Missed appointments, known as Did Not Attends (DNAs) can cause serious delays in treatment for other patients.
Simple initiatives such as sending email and text reminders are now used by many clinics, and are already beginning to have an impact: outpatient DNAs have fallen to 9.1% from 10.5% in 2008/9.
Now, the NHS is rolling out solutions which let patients check, book and cancel appointments at their own convenience and order repeat medication online.
Doctors are also making the most of the rise of smartphones and tablets to connect with patients: outpatient consultations via Skype are becoming increasingly common for patients who don’t need a physical examination.
Telecare and telehealth services are also expanding, which means patients can monitor their health at home and access medical advice without regular visits to their surgery.
Beverley Bryant, NHS England, said: “It’s important that people realise that not turning up to appointments can have a big impact on the care and treatment we are able to give other patients. It wastes Doctors’ and Nurses’ time too, which costs taxpayers money.
“Patient care is always at the top of our agenda. That‘s why we are doing everything we can to make our service match with people’s lifestyles and the technology they use, to give more people easy access to the services they need. We hope the public will do their bit too by making sure they attend or cancel appointments in good time. That way, everybody benefits.”
In an effort to get the message across to the wider public of the cost of missed appointments, the NHS is using Change Day 2014 to appeal to patients. Change Day asks patients, staff and providers commit to one action that will improve care within the NHS. This year, NHS England is encouraging patients to pledge to turn up to their appointments and help push DNA numbers as low as possible. The scheme, in its second year, has already seen 225,000 people make a personal pledge to improve the NHS, which prior to launch is already up on last year’s total of 189,000 pledges.