Health chiefs count £800,000 cost of patients who fail to appear

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PATIENTS who failed to turn up for appointments in the Borders last year wasted almost £800,000 of health service cash.

More than 6,000 slots were missed, according to NHS Borders, which is about to launch a scheme aimed at slashing the number of missed appointments from 7.3 per cent to 4 per cent. Health chiefs will launch an appointment reminder service on Monday, beginning with gynaecology and diabetic services.

Patients will be contacted five to seven days before their appointment by an automated interactive voice response phone call. Those who confirm they are attending will receive a text prompt the day before their appointment.

But those who fail to response to the five/seven day alert won’t have their appointment cancelled – it remains in place.

Those who know they will be unable to attend are urged to cancel in order that the time can be allocated to someone else.

Jane Davidson, chief operating officer with NHS Borders said: “We know there are genuine reasons why some patients do not attend for their appointments but every missed appointment is a lost opportunity for someone else to be seen.

“This service alerts patients to their appointment and encourages them to contact us to rearrange, if they are unable to attend.

“If we reduce the number of people who miss their appointment, we will be able to see more patients and our clinicians will be better placed to spend their time seeing patients.”

The alert scheme will be rolled out to other departments by the end of this month.

Other measure being taken by NHS Borders include having booking staff on duty in evenings as well daytime to enable appointments to be offered and amended beyond the time already in use.