02:00PM, Friday 18 January 2019
Missed hospital appointments have cost the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust almost £6million.
It comes at a time when the NHS is ‘under incredible stress’, according to the British Medical Association (BMA).
The data, produced by NHS England, is based on the 49,937 people who either did not show up to their appointment or arrived too late to be seen at Frimley Health hospitals, which include Wexham Park in Slough and Heatherwood in Ascot, between September 2017 and September 2018.
The figure has been calculated by multiplying this number by £120, the estimated unit cost for every outpatient appointment, which totals about £5.99m.
Dr Robert Harwood, chairman of the BMA’s consultant committee, said: “It is important that no appointments are wasted at a time when the NHS is under incredible stress.
“We should not stigmatise patients who may for legitimate reasons be unable to attend. However, we do need the NHS to emphasise through clear publicity to the public that, given the current unprecedented pressure, patients should make every possible effort to rearrange their appointment so that another person is able to receive treatment in their place.”
The 49,937 missed appointments make up 10 per cent of the 503,418 outpatient appointments at the trust during the 12 months to September 2018.
A spokesman for Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “We understand that sometimes patients may be unable to keep an appointment but we ask that they tell us in advance so that we can re-
allocate it to someone else who needs it.
“The trust employs a number of methods to make attending appointments easier for patients, such as text message reminders, and our electronic referral service allows people to select a date and time of their choice.
“Our appointments teams can help patients reschedule should circumstances change.
“Some follow-up appointments can take place by telephone and we are exploring other ways in which technology can reduce the need for patients to attend hospital in person.”
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