Calls for patients to be charged for missed appointments after no-shows cost hospitals £9million a year

Ian Buckmaster, Healthwatch Havering

Ian Buckmaster, Healthwatch Havering - Credit: Archant

Missed appointments are costing the health trust running Queen’s and King George hospitals £24,660 a day.

A total of 83,528 patients failed to attend pre-booked appointments during the last financial year, causing the trust to lose out on £9,001,044 – equivalent to £107.76 per missed session.

The statistics showed the trauma and orthopedics departments racked up the largest absentee list, with 8,635 no-shows – more than 10 per cent – while 8,516 missed physiotherapy sessions.

Those aged 60 and over were responsible for the most missed appointments with 21,623 misses, while those in the their 30s were responsible for the least at 14,144.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Trust (BHRUT), which runs the hospitals in Rom Valley Way, Romford, and Barley Lane, Goodmayes, remained in special measures last month after an inspection report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), citing below-target A&E waiting times and outpatient services struggling to meet demands.

BHRUT’s chief operating officer Sarah Tedford said: “It is important that we do all that we can to encourage people to attend their appointments so they can receive the care and treatment that they need,

“When we send out letters to our patients, we remind them how much a missed appointment costs their hospital.

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“We are also displaying posters around our hospitals, and at GP surgeries, and are rolling out text messaging to remind people about their appointments.

“We would encourage anyone who can’t make their appointment, or who no longer require it, to let us know as soon as possible so we can offer that slot to another patient.”

Patients’ watchdog Healthwatch Havering said it was money the trust could not afford.

Director Ian Buckmaster said: “People miss appointments for all sorts of reasons – sometimes it just goes completely out of their head. They think it’s only one appointment, but if 100 people don’t turn up for their appointments a whole day would be wasted.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to get through to the right place – there’s a fault in the system, they don’t make it easy to tell them you are going to be delayed or can’t attend. It’s not just BHRUT, it’s across the whole NHS.

“We would urge people to contact the hospital if they cannot attend, but the hospital needs to make it easier for people to make contact.”

Mr Buckmaster also suggested patients should be charged £10 each time they fail to attend an appointment.

A spokesman for Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “We need patients to let the NHS know if they need to cancel or rearrange an appointment.

“By letting your hospital or GP know when you aren’t coming, you are not only freeing up precious NHS resources but you could also be helping someone who really needs that appointment.”