Health chiefs in Tayside are urging the public to “do their bit” after nearly 2,000 hospital appointments were missed in a week – costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The health board says the 1,846 missed outpatient appointments last week account for nearly 10% of all those booked across the region.
Bosses claim the number of people not turning up is wasting NHS time and causing longer delays for those in need of care, as well as adding to staff stress.
It is also costing the board money – previous estimates suggest each missed appointment costs about £151, meaning last week could have cost NHS Tayside about £278,000.
If reflected over the course of a month, it would mean the health service in the region losing more than £1 million.
Missed appointments ‘increase waiting times’
Dr Pamela Johnston, operational medical director for NHS Tayside, is asking members of the public to stick to their bookings.
She said: “Now more than ever we need to make sure all healthcare professionals’ time and clinical expertise is used in the best way.
“Missed appointments delay treatment and increase waiting times for all patients.
“I understand that people may be a bit anxious about coming to hospital while Covid continues to circulate in our communities, but please be reassured that there are lots of Covid-19 safety measures in place throughout our healthcare sites including fluid-resistant face masks, social distancing and hand hygiene stations.”
Dr Johnston is asking anyone who cannot attend an appointment to let the health board know as quickly as possible so that space can be made for other patients.
Advice for patients
She added: “People should also make sure that their address and phone number is up to date with their GP practice to ensure that appointment letters and text reminders don’t go astray.
“This will help us reduce the number of missed appointments and means we can make the best use of all of our NHS resources.
“As we head into winter, please help all of our teams to keep services running and seeing as many people as we can by attending your scheduled hospital appointment or letting us know if you can no longer make it.”