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Sussex hospitals count cost of missed appointments
Nearly 300 hospital appointments are missed in Sussex every day – potentially costing hospitals more than £10million a year.
Hospitals across Sussex have recorded more than 109,000 no-shows for outpatient appointments between April 2012 and the end of March.
Missed appointments, also known as did not attends (DNAs), can have an impact on waiting lists as well as the financial cost of wasting staff time.
Health bosses believe someone not turning up can cost between £100 and £110 for each appointment.
Some trusts try to compensate by over-booking outpatient appointments to minimise the effect and staff with free time are usually able to carry on with other jobs instead.
However patients are urged to let trusts know if they are aware they are not going to be turning up.
Some DNAs can be legitimate, with patients either not getting contacted beforehand, have moved away, or have had to deal with an unexpected emergency.
However others do not turn up because they feel they no longer need an appointment and do not tell the hospital, or forgot they had an appointment.
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust recorded 44,460 missed appointments, a slight improvement on the more than 45,000 the year before.
Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust had 31,763 no-shows, a slight rise on the year before, while East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust also rose from 31,793 to 33,027.
A spokesman for Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, which runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath among others, said: “We have a number of initiatives in place to try to reduce the number of patients who do not attend outpatient appointments.
“We have introduced a text service, which remind patients on their mobile phone of their appointment, and patients can request to cancel or change their appointment online.
“We have improved how we manage patients waiting for appointments by centralising the booking system and we have made changes to the way we re-book patients, with patients who do not attend appointments for non-clinical issues referred back to their GP.”
East Sussex Healthcare director of nursing Alice Webster said: “We would urge patients to get in touch with us if they want to cancel their appointment.
“That way we can use the appointment for someone else and it will mean that our clinics are used more productively.
“We are in the process of upgrading our appointment reminder service which will also include a facility to text reminders to patients seven and three days prior to their appointment. It is anticipated this will become operational early in the new year.”
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