Missed appointments cost £740k

LAST year, more than 6,000 appointment slots in NHS Borders were lost because patients did not turn up, costing the health board around £740,000.

And with this in mind they are working hard to improve the way that their outpatient services are run and organised.

Missing an appointment could mean missing out on important medical treatment. It also means a huge amount of clinical time not spent seeing patients.

The average cost to NHS Borders of each missed appointment is £132. The wider cost to the community is substantial, as these appointments could not be given to other patients who are waiting to be seen and so could have been seen more quickly.

Around one in 12 patients do not turn up for their outpatient appointment; this adds up to wasted appointments and resources, costing NHS Borders nearly three quarters of a million a year.

The health board aim to get better at how they agree appointments with patients, and how to help patients attend for appointments.

This includes looking into extending the operational day for their booking team to enable appointments to be offered and amended in the evenings as well as during the day.

They are exploring the potential of providing information to patients on public transport so they do not have to drive themselves to appointments and are also looking at how they can minimise the occasions on which agreed appointments have to be rescheduled.

The first of these initiatives is to introduce an appointment reminder service on October 15, with diabetic and gynaecology services to be tested first.