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Missed appointments costing NHS in Sussex millions of pounds
Thousands of hospital appointments are being missed every month, potentially costing the NHS millions of pounds a year.
More than 23,700 people missed their first hospital outpatient appointment over a nine month period, figures from NHS England have revealed.
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.
Someone not turning up can potentially between £100 and £110 for each appointment.
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The figures, which cover the period from April last year to December, do not include no-shows for follow up appointments and clinics, and so do not fully reflect the scale of the problem.
The county's hospitals have around 109,000 missed appointments in total each year, working out a cost of almost £10 million.
Some hospital trusts sometimes over-book outpatient appointments to minimise the effect of DNAs.
Staff can also get on with other jobs if they are left with unexpected free time.
Patients are urged to let hospitals know if they realise they are not going to be able to make their appointment because the slot could be given to someone else.
Some DNAs are unavoidable, such as patients moving away, having to deal with an unexpected emergency or not getting a letter or message beforehand giving them the time and date.
However others do not come along because they forgot about their appointment or felt they no longer needed one.
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust recorded 11,927 missed appointments over the nine months while East Sussex Healthcare reported 7,034.
Western Sussex Hospitals had 4,764 no-shows.
A Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals spokesman said: “When patients do not attend their appointments, it can have a negative effect on the efficiency of our outpatients department and cause delays for other patients to be treated.
“We have a number of initiatives in place to try to reduce the number of patients who do not attend their appointments, including a text service which reminds patients on their mobile phone of their appointment, and patients can also request to cancel or change their appointment online.”
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