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As many as two patients a day not showing up for operations

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An average of almost two operations per day were cancelled in Tayside last year because patients did not attend for their procedure.

Figures released under Freedom of Information legislation show a total 658 operations were cancelled in Angus, Perth and Dundee because patients failed to show up for their operation.

In Fife, more than one operation on average per day was cancelled by the patient, with a total 384 procedures cancelled in a 12-month period in the kingdom.

There were a total of 34,672 elective and emergency operations carried out in Tayside in 2016, 3,969 of which were cancelled in general.

Almost 17% of those were cancelled as a result of patients failing to turn up.

Dr Gavin Main, associate medical director for access with NHS Tayside, urged people to keep their personal contact details as up-to-date as possible, in order to avoid further missed operations.

He said: “We would urge people to contact us as soon as possible if, for any reason, they are unable to attend for surgical procedures or any other hospital appointments.

“This allows us to reduce wasted appointments by giving someone else the original appointment, and rearranging a more suitable date and time for patients.

“Unfortunately we will not always be able to determine why patients do not attend for their appointment. However, to ensure that appointment letters go to the correct patient, people should make sure that they keep their GP up-to-date with their correct phone number and address details.

“There are a number of initiatives NHS Tayside has put in place aiming to reduce the Did Not Attend (DNA) rate including a greater use of automated text messaging systems to act as a reminder to patients.”

Over the course of the last 15 years, an average of 15.5% of cancelled appointments in Tayside were as a result of people not attending for their scheduled procedure.

Scottish Conservative North East MSP Liam Kerr called for more to be done to remind patients when they have an appointment due.

He said: “This is quite clearly a massive strain on the NHS at a time in which it can least afford it.

“Although it’s to be expected on occasions for patients to not turn up, the Scottish Government needs to take more action so patients can be reminded more easily.

“It’s important that a way is found to ease the financial pressure this issue puts on hospitals.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “It is every patient’s responsibility to keep their NHS appointment and it is important that they let the hospital know when they cannot attend. However, we also recognise that the NHS has to be flexible in helping make appointments convenient to patients.

“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting health boards to implement policies to reduce missed appointments such as providing reminder services through text, emails and social media. This will allow reminder services to be tailored for patients who are most likely to not attend.”

More than 2,500 operations were cancelled in Scotland in February of this year alone, out of a total 27,475 planned procedures – a national cancellation rate of 9.3%. More than 930 of these were cancelled by the patient – either before the operation was scheduled or by not attending for their procedure.

In Tayside in February, there were 212 cancelled operations in total, 48 of which were cancelled by the patient.

In Fife, 22 of the 112 operations were cancelled by the patient.

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