Western Trust reveals missed appointments costing £3m

MORE than £3 million was lost to health and social care last year due to people not attending appointments in the Western Health Trust area, it has been revealed.

From January 1 to December 31, 2023, the total number of patients who did not attend a consultant outpatient appointment – or failed to give staff sufficient notice to make the appointments available to other patients – in Western Trust hospitals was 18,498. Each missed appointment cost the Trust £170, which equates to £3.1 million lost to the health and social care budget.

Paul Doherty, operational assistant at the Directorate of Surgery, Paediatrics and Women’s Health, said, “We understand that there are many genuine reasons why people are not able to make an appointment however, as these figures show every missed appointment is a lost opportunity for someone else to be seen.


“The appointment slot is an actual time with a member of our clinical and nursing staff who are dedicated to patient care.

“We are asking for the public’s cooperation in reducing non-attendance for hospital outpatient appointments so that valuable resources and staff time is not wasted, as this will have a significant impact on already overstretched health service.”

Mr Doherty added, “Where possible we would ask patients with an appointment to let the hospital know if they won’t be able to attend, and to do this at the earliest opportunity, and at least 24 hours beforehand.”

To help reduce non-attendance, the Trust has in place a system for booking outpatient appointments, where patients are given a choice of dates and times and they can select one that best suits them.

Patients attending outpatient appointments across the Western Trust area receive an SMS text to their mobile phone or an automated voice call to their landline, reminding them of their outpatient appointment three days prior to their appointment.

The Trust also has launched a programme of work to review ‘Did Not Attend’ (DNAs) appointments across six specialities areas in Urology; ENT; Orthopaedics; Diabetes; Nephrology and Neurology, with the overall aim of reducing the DNA rate, patient on the day cancellations and ensuring patients are treated in a timely manner.

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