An Angus woman has criticised NHS Tayside for the way it notifies patients of upcoming appointments.
The Arbroath resident, who is receiving outpatient treatment with the health board, has hit out at the service after a “no show” was put against her name for a missed appointment, despite her claim that she only received the date for the scheduled visit three days after it was due to take place.
The woman, who asked not to be named, said that the dates on a letter notifying her of the appointment showed that it took almost 20 days for the document to travel via post from Ninewells Hospital to her home address.
A rescheduled appointment was made but on attendance at the new date, the woman found that she had been blamed for missing the original appointment.
She said: “There has been a lot of coverage of the list of missed appointments in various health board areas, with Tayside among the highest in Scotland and patients being blamed for just not turning up.
“However, there is another side to this story. A letter with an appointment for me to attend a clinic in Ninewells took 18 days to travel from the hospital to Arbroath.
“It arrived three days after the appointment date. To be fair, another appointment was quickly arranged but I noticed ‘no show’ was on my notes.
“How many more ‘missed’ appointments are for the same reasons?”
NHS Tayside said it was examiningproposals to improve the way in which it notifies patients of upcoming dates.
It comes on the back of recent statistics published by the Scottish Liberal Democrats which showed that 771,421 appointments across Scotland were “skipped” in 2012-13, an increase of 24,729 in comparison to the previous year.
In Tayside this figure rose by 7,637 to 131,831. The woman added that health boards should introduce a more effective way of notifying and reminding patients of their appointment dates.
She said: “Often, after attending a clinic, a date for a follow-up visit for six months or a year ahead is given. These can easily be forgotten, especially if the patient is elderly or in care.
“Surely some other system can be devised. After all, my dentist phones me the day before my appointment to remind me. That would be even cheaper than the second-class mail that Tayside currently uses.
“It is not a case of ‘no show’ but ‘no know’.”
A spokesperson for NHS Tayside said: “We recognise that from time to time, and despite our best efforts, a patient may receive their appointment letter after the date of their appointment. If that does happen we would like to assure patients that they would be reappointed as soon as possible into the next available time slot.
“Appointment letters sent through the post are the most common way that we have of communicating with our patients currently.
“However, we are very keen to develop more electronic communications with our patients to advise them of their admission dates and appointment times and also issue reminders for scheduled appointments.
“We are currently moving forward with proposals for this and look forward to testing this kind of patient communication in some specialities.”