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Missed Homerton Hospital appointments cost NHS £5.8m a year

PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 April 2016 | UPDATED: 12:37 25 April 2016

Homerton Hospital,  Hackney.

Homerton Hospital, Hackney.

Archant

Patients who miss appointments at Homerton Hospital are costing the cash-strapped NHS £5.8million a year, enough to pay for 200 nurses, a Gazette investigation can reveal.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has endorsed the Shared Lives schemeHealth Secretary Jeremy Hunt has endorsed the Shared Lives scheme

The staggering scale of time and money wasted by patients who forget to turn up at the Homerton has been uncovered using a Freedom of Information request.

Every day 115 people do not attend routine outpatient appointments at a cost of £138 a time.

The daily loss to the hospital is almost £16,000.

Trust chief exec Tracey Fletcher appealed for the public’s help to tackle the issue.

“Patients who do not attend their hospital appointments continue to be a costly problem for all NHS trusts,” she said.

“The Homerton deals with over a quarter of a million outpatient attendances at the hospital every year and reducing the number of patients that do not attend their appointment remains a priority.”

The hospital said it was considering “new and innovative” ways of working with patients to reduce the numbers who don’t attend and increase its own efficiency.

A pilot scheme will see patients contacted by phone to confirm clinic appointments in a number of specialties, and 12,000 text message reminders are already sent every month.

But health chiefs say a vast number of appointments are missed simply because people forget to turn up.

One of the worst hit areas at the Homerton is ante-natal care for pregnant women.

Ms Fletcher said: “In some cases, for instance in ante-natal, women may not turn up for follow-ups because they decide to go to another hospital to continue their antenatal care as a matter of personal choice.

“But in many cases, people forget their appointment date or, for whatever reason, don’t attend nor inform us in advance.”

The hospital has warned that missed appointments deprive others of valuable time with a consultant and drive up waiting times as well as wasting money.

“We urge all patients with appointments at our hospital to help us help them by ensuring that we have up to date information about their GP and their own contact details and, if they can’t make their appointment, they contact us so we can provide them with another date and offer the vacant slot to somebody else,” said the chief executive.

See Thursday’s Gazette for the full report.

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