Missed appointments cost Morecambe Bay hospitals £2.4million last year (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Missed appointments cost Morecambe Bay hospitals £2.4million last year
MISSED appointments cost the Morecambe Bay hospitals trust an estimated £2.4million last year.
Patients failed to turn up to almost 25,000 outpatient appointments at Westmorland General Hospital, Furness General Hospital and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, at an average cost of around £100 per appointment according to health watchdog, Dr Foster.
“There are a lot of reasons why people don’t turn up - they might feel better, be a bit scared or have simply forgotten – and we understand that,” said Helen Pye, head of service improvement within Core Clinical Services at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundaton Trust.
“But we’d ask people to let us know if they won’t be turning up because it means every department can operate far more efficiently.”
The trust is currently facing a deficit of £30million, which it must find by next April or risk going bust.
But if a patient does not attend their appointment the Clinical Commissioning Group will not reimburse the trust for its outlay on staffing and other running costs.
“These are vital funds that could be used to treat local people,” said South Lakes MP Tim Farron. “We cannot allow £2.4 million to be wasted on appointments that people either cancel, or simply don’t attend.”
In the last financial year patients missed 7,057 new appointments and 17,295 follow-up appointments.
This leaves staff without a patient to see – and means other patients wait longer for their appointments. Janet Lavelle, clinical director for core clinical services at UHMBT, said: “One of the best ways patients can help us is to ensure they keep their appointments, or if it is absolutely impossible for them to attend, let us know as early as possible.
“This ensures that we can make efforts to offer that appointment slot to another patient.”
Departments with particularly low turnouts include elderly care and paediatrics.
But missed paediatric appointments have dropped from 20 per cent to 12 per cent since the launch of a ‘patient reminder service’ earlier this summer.
The trust has also worked to improve its own services following an outcry last year when around 19,000 follow-up appointment letters were delayed.
“We know we have a lot of work still to do to further improve our outpatient services for our patients,” continued Ms Lavelle.
“We would assure them that we are continually working to improve the system.”
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