Scandal of 80,000 missed outpatient appointments

Basildon Recorder: Scandal of 80,000 missed outpatient appointments Scandal of 80,000 missed outpatient appointments

TENS of thousands of people are wasting doctors’ time and public cash by failing to keep outpatient appointments at Basildon and Southend hospitals.

Figures show the number of missed appointments at the two hospitals are increasing, with almost 1,600 more people who failed to attend appointments in 2012 than 2011.

At Basildon Hospital, a total of 36,404 patients did not showup to a new or follow-up date in 2012/2013.

That represents almost 12 per of the estimated 310,000 people seen by the outpatients’ departments each year.

This is up from 35,850 missed appointments in 2011/2012.

Meanwhile, at Southend hospital a staggering 44,461 people failed to attend in 2012/2013, – 6 per cent of the 752,876 on the books for that year. This is up from 43,423 in 2011/12.

Neither hospital could confirm the precise cost on average per missed appointment.

The cost varies widely.

However, a number of hospitals apply a rough figure of £100 per appointment, which means the cost could reach £8million.

The majority of missed appointments are follow-ups and hospitals attribute the rise to the increase in the number of people coming through their doors per day. Basildon Hospital is seeing 600,000 more patients than in 2008. Jon Findlay, chief operating officer at Southend Hospital, said: “We continually work to help reduce the number of patients who do not attend appointments.

“This includes a new way of booking follow up appointments, where a letter is sent to patients nearer the time they are due to come in, asking them to ring and book an appointment convenient with them, rather than when they leave the clinic after the initial consultation. We are also piloting a text message appointment reminder scheme in one service area to monitor the impact it has on missed appointments.’’

Mr Findlay added: “We also try to educate patients by stating on the letters that if they do not attend without letting us know, they may have to go back to their GP for another referral, which could delay treatment.

“A follow-up appointment is booked because it is deemed there is a clinical need, so it is important they attend.”

Comments (20)

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9:12am Mon 13 Jan 14

LastLaugh2 says...

They should employ a system, of when a person fails to turn up without reasonable excuse, they are struck off the admittance allowance for the future, let them go elsewhere, get rid.
They should employ a system, of when a person fails to turn up without reasonable excuse, they are struck off the admittance allowance for the future, let them go elsewhere, get rid. LastLaugh2
  • Score: 4

9:23am Mon 13 Jan 14

fletch12107 says...

Because its free its abused. This service will be privatised soon.
Because its free its abused. This service will be privatised soon. fletch12107
  • Score: 1

9:28am Mon 13 Jan 14

w-jback says...

Charge everyone for their appointments, if they show up they get the money back!
Charge everyone for their appointments, if they show up they get the money back! w-jback
  • Score: 25

9:50am Mon 13 Jan 14

DogsMessInLeigh says...

some have no shame, refuse them treatment or make them pay for missed appointments some excuses are acceptable of course when letting the hospital/doctors know in advance or on the day.
The text message system is very good and i am sure will work out.
some have no shame, refuse them treatment or make them pay for missed appointments some excuses are acceptable of course when letting the hospital/doctors know in advance or on the day. The text message system is very good and i am sure will work out. DogsMessInLeigh
  • Score: 20

10:01am Mon 13 Jan 14

LastLaugh2 says...

fletch12107 wrote:
Because its free its abused. This service will be privatised soon.
Along with homes for the elderly
[quote][p][bold]fletch12107[/bold] wrote: Because its free its abused. This service will be privatised soon.[/p][/quote]Along with homes for the elderly LastLaugh2
  • Score: -14

10:10am Mon 13 Jan 14

Howard Cháse says...

They couldn't find/didn't want to pay for a parking space...
They couldn't find/didn't want to pay for a parking space... Howard Cháse
  • Score: 7

11:07am Mon 13 Jan 14

MilesBond says...

Someone's massaging the figures?
Someone's massaging the figures? MilesBond
  • Score: 8

11:18am Mon 13 Jan 14

Jack222 says...

Make all people pay £10 for an appointment, refunded if they turn up.
Make all people pay £10 for an appointment, refunded if they turn up. Jack222
  • Score: 11

12:06pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Ian P says...

Yet another biased report from the Echo. I would like to see the figures where outpatient appointments are cancelled due to non-availability of medical staff, as a comparison.
Yet another biased report from the Echo. I would like to see the figures where outpatient appointments are cancelled due to non-availability of medical staff, as a comparison. Ian P
  • Score: 29

12:44pm Mon 13 Jan 14

pembury53 says...

DogsMessInLeigh wrote:
some have no shame, refuse them treatment or make them pay for missed appointments some excuses are acceptable of course when letting the hospital/doctors know in advance or on the day. The text message system is very good and i am sure will work out.
i agree, missed appointments should be chargeable.... scandal over
[quote][p][bold]DogsMessInLeigh[/bold] wrote: some have no shame, refuse them treatment or make them pay for missed appointments some excuses are acceptable of course when letting the hospital/doctors know in advance or on the day. The text message system is very good and i am sure will work out.[/p][/quote]i agree, missed appointments should be chargeable.... scandal over pembury53
  • Score: 12

1:19pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Thecountrysgonetopot! says...

Ian P wrote:
Yet another biased report from the Echo. I would like to see the figures where outpatient appointments are cancelled due to non-availability of medical staff, as a comparison.
Totally agree! I have a thyroid condition and have to attend an appointment every 3 months at Basildon Hospital. Some of my appointments have been very important and they have cancelled them either at the last minute or not told me and i have turned up and wasted my time, they then offer me appointments which are 3 to 6 months after that which is not good enough as i must see the consultant every 3 months and not 9 months after the original appointment!
[quote][p][bold]Ian P[/bold] wrote: Yet another biased report from the Echo. I would like to see the figures where outpatient appointments are cancelled due to non-availability of medical staff, as a comparison.[/p][/quote]Totally agree! I have a thyroid condition and have to attend an appointment every 3 months at Basildon Hospital. Some of my appointments have been very important and they have cancelled them either at the last minute or not told me and i have turned up and wasted my time, they then offer me appointments which are 3 to 6 months after that which is not good enough as i must see the consultant every 3 months and not 9 months after the original appointment! Thecountrysgonetopot!
  • Score: 26

2:02pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Cockle says...

Or, of course, some could be like a relative of mine.
Was asked if there were any dates when she wouldn't be available, she told the hospital of a three week period over Christmas when she would be away.
Letter was sent, dated the day she'd gone away with an appointment date for two weeks time; consequently when she returned home she opened the letter to find she'd missed the appointment by a week.
She is of the generation where not all have mobiles so a text was of no use, and is also one of those who feels guilty of there having been a wasted appointment that someone else could have used, if only she'd known or the hospital taken any notice of the answer to their own question; it's not always the patient's fault.
By the way, she is also of the generation who remembers the days before the NHS so is very grateful for its existence having witnessed the old age of her grandparents in those 'good old days'. As she says, 'They were the good old days for those who had money, very few were like the 'upstairs' at Downton Abbey, most were very much 'downstairs', or below.'
Or, of course, some could be like a relative of mine. Was asked if there were any dates when she wouldn't be available, she told the hospital of a three week period over Christmas when she would be away. Letter was sent, dated the day she'd gone away with an appointment date for two weeks time; consequently when she returned home she opened the letter to find she'd missed the appointment by a week. She is of the generation where not all have mobiles so a text was of no use, and is also one of those who feels guilty of there having been a wasted appointment that someone else could have used, if only she'd known or the hospital taken any notice of the answer to their own question; it's not always the patient's fault. By the way, she is also of the generation who remembers the days before the NHS so is very grateful for its existence having witnessed the old age of her grandparents in those 'good old days'. As she says, 'They were the good old days for those who had money, very few were like the 'upstairs' at Downton Abbey, most were very much 'downstairs', or below.' Cockle
  • Score: 23

4:28pm Mon 13 Jan 14

westborograss says...

Jack222 wrote:
Make all people pay £10 for an appointment, refunded if they turn up.
Sounds a very reasonable way to reduce the number missed
Those like me on benefits sign a docket and have the money stopped from benefit if they fail to show, don't sign don't get an appointment
Simples as the kat says ;-)
[quote][p][bold]Jack222[/bold] wrote: Make all people pay £10 for an appointment, refunded if they turn up.[/p][/quote]Sounds a very reasonable way to reduce the number missed Those like me on benefits sign a docket and have the money stopped from benefit if they fail to show, don't sign don't get an appointment Simples as the kat says ;-) westborograss
  • Score: 1

4:35pm Mon 13 Jan 14

jolllyboy says...

Take away the number of people who had meantime been admitted as as inpatient due to the waiting time making it urgent and more serious. We all know about the times the Hospitals cancel andIi can see a problem if they do that and then send you a letter asking if you still want it and to ring in.! This appt would then not count as being longer than the target time. ie end of the queue again. i agree about the mobile 9and computer) problem. Recently someone i know wanted to let the TV people know that they had reached 75 and they wanted their mobile number - just like forms - mobile or computer only unless you tell them cannot do it.
Take away the number of people who had meantime been admitted as as inpatient due to the waiting time making it urgent and more serious. We all know about the times the Hospitals cancel andIi can see a problem if they do that and then send you a letter asking if you still want it and to ring in.! This appt would then not count as being longer than the target time. ie end of the queue again. i agree about the mobile 9and computer) problem. Recently someone i know wanted to let the TV people know that they had reached 75 and they wanted their mobile number - just like forms - mobile or computer only unless you tell them cannot do it. jolllyboy
  • Score: 4

10:26pm Mon 13 Jan 14

bolshiesaf says...

I have just spoken to my boyfriend who had an appointment today. He turned up to be told that they wrote to him and it is now on 27th. A waste of bus fare and his time.

Surprise same as when you do not turn up they wrote to you. Why when it is so expensive do they write to those of us who would prefer an e-mail or a text?

My GP texts me my appointments so why not the hospital. Also in the old days you booked your next appointment before you left now you have to wait for the dreaded letter.

Although not our area my friends Mum's letters were sent to her old address although her new address was given over on many occaisions in the last 8 years.
I have just spoken to my boyfriend who had an appointment today. He turned up to be told that they wrote to him and it is now on 27th. A waste of bus fare and his time. Surprise same as when you do not turn up they wrote to you. Why when it is so expensive do they write to those of us who would prefer an e-mail or a text? My GP texts me my appointments so why not the hospital. Also in the old days you booked your next appointment before you left now you have to wait for the dreaded letter. Although not our area my friends Mum's letters were sent to her old address although her new address was given over on many occaisions in the last 8 years. bolshiesaf
  • Score: 11

1:46am Tue 14 Jan 14

Nebs says...

I don't think 6% is unreasonable.
The average worker takes 9 days sick a year.
52 weeks x 5 days, less bank holidays and statutory holidays, is about 225 working days a year. So thats about 4% sickies for Joe Average. Given that these people are ill already, hence the need to visit hospital, 6% seems quite reasonable.
Rather than cut it down, the hospitals should be looking at ways of filling the gaps. Have a list of people who are prepared to attend at short notice and jump the queue, if it costs £100 per missed appointment then employing someone on the phone to contact these queue jumpers would only need one success a day to pay for itself.
I don't think 6% is unreasonable. The average worker takes 9 days sick a year. 52 weeks x 5 days, less bank holidays and statutory holidays, is about 225 working days a year. So thats about 4% sickies for Joe Average. Given that these people are ill already, hence the need to visit hospital, 6% seems quite reasonable. Rather than cut it down, the hospitals should be looking at ways of filling the gaps. Have a list of people who are prepared to attend at short notice and jump the queue, if it costs £100 per missed appointment then employing someone on the phone to contact these queue jumpers would only need one success a day to pay for itself. Nebs
  • Score: 0

12:12pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Papermonkey says...

For years now doctors time has not been wasted, they pass it back to the patients.

I had an outpatients appointment recently and turned up at my appointment time (9:30) only to find a queue out the door and well over 50 people waiting to see 3 specialists. Eventually I got seen about 11.

They block book people exactly so that their time isn't wasted. If I miss an appointment which I have done in the past I do so knowing that they will not even notice I haven't turned up, let alone be wasting anyone's time looking or waiting for me. If enough people don't turn up the doctor takes an early lunch that's all that happens.
For years now doctors time has not been wasted, they pass it back to the patients. I had an outpatients appointment recently and turned up at my appointment time (9:30) only to find a queue out the door and well over 50 people waiting to see 3 specialists. Eventually I got seen about 11. They block book people exactly so that their time isn't wasted. If I miss an appointment which I have done in the past I do so knowing that they will not even notice I haven't turned up, let alone be wasting anyone's time looking or waiting for me. If enough people don't turn up the doctor takes an early lunch that's all that happens. Papermonkey
  • Score: 2

3:10pm Tue 14 Jan 14

artytoit says...

Was at Basildon hospital today. Judging by massive traffic jam on Nethermayne, caused by hospital parking, there's part of problem.
Was at Basildon hospital today. Judging by massive traffic jam on Nethermayne, caused by hospital parking, there's part of problem. artytoit
  • Score: 3

5:23pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Mikkel1 says...

A couple of years ago, I had an appointment at our local hospital, Not Basildon, or Southend, paid through the nose to park, waited over an hour after my Booked appointment, then got shown to a room where I was told the Specialist would be with me within a minute. I have NO idea how long his/her minute is, but half-hour later I walked out without getting seen, or told WHY there was yet a further delay. I never did get to see whoever they were, anymore than I got an or an explanation for THEIR lack of action.
A couple of years ago, I had an appointment at our local hospital, Not Basildon, or Southend, paid through the nose to park, waited over an hour after my Booked appointment, then got shown to a room where I was told the Specialist would be with me within a minute. I have NO idea how long his/her minute is, but half-hour later I walked out without getting seen, or told WHY there was yet a further delay. I never did get to see whoever they were, anymore than I got an or an explanation for THEIR lack of action. Mikkel1
  • Score: 1

3:43pm Wed 15 Jan 14

whataday says...

Need to tighten up all round. Whilst I readily see the expense and frustration caused by people not turning up for appointments sometimes it is hospital clerical fault e.g. a friend of mine had their routine 3 monthly appt. brought forward due to more urgent need for review and the hospital failed to cancel the original appt. This was luckily found out when clerk in the dept. concerned was going to make next routine review appt. and saw the original appt. (for a month later) She was able to cancel that so that somebody else could be offered that appt. Luckily this clerk was on the ball whereas previous one who rearranged appt. failed to cancel the one which was no longer needed.

Also agree with some other commenters above that if you are given an appt. you should expect to be seen on time Many people have to take time off work to attend appts and are expected to return to work afterwards. I can see need to allow some extra time for some patients where appt. overruns because of a complication for example but I really cannot see why appt. times can overrun by hours.
Need to tighten up all round. Whilst I readily see the expense and frustration caused by people not turning up for appointments sometimes it is hospital clerical fault e.g. a friend of mine had their routine 3 monthly appt. brought forward due to more urgent need for review and the hospital failed to cancel the original appt. This was luckily found out when clerk in the dept. concerned was going to make next routine review appt. and saw the original appt. (for a month later) She was able to cancel that so that somebody else could be offered that appt. Luckily this clerk was on the ball whereas previous one who rearranged appt. failed to cancel the one which was no longer needed. Also agree with some other commenters above that if you are given an appt. you should expect to be seen on time Many people have to take time off work to attend appts and are expected to return to work afterwards. I can see need to allow some extra time for some patients where appt. overruns because of a complication for example but I really cannot see why appt. times can overrun by hours. whataday
  • Score: 1

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