Monday, May 08, 2006

Missed Appointments Not All The Fault Of Patients

The Green Party responded swiftly to research by Grant Shapps, a Conservative MP who has put forward figures showing failure to attend hospital outpatient appointments could cost the NHS up to £680 million a year. I have my own audit figures showing that although a quarter of patient offered outpatient appointments carelessly forgot to attend, 45% of my sample did take the trouble to cancel, and that the resulting waste of hospital resources was due to inadequate communications within the hospital. In two cases ( 3.6%) the invitation to the appointment arrived after the time of the appointment.

Most cancellations made by patients were by phone, but two patients even cancelled in writing.

The conclusion is that not all failed appointments episodes are due to the negligence of patients. A significant proportion is due to poor communication between hospital administration departments.

Dr Lawson commented “The ever increasing pressures on the NHS brought about by ill-thought through central Government “reforms” is probably causing the hospital clerks to lose the plot in a significant way, at least in the hospital that we studied.”

Full details of my audit of 115 events are posted here.

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