Ipswich: Drive to slash the �3million crippling cost of patient no-shows at Ipswich Hospital

IPSWICH: Nearly �3million was wasted at Ipswich Hospital last year by patients failing to turn up for appointments, The Evening Star can today reveal.

It is estimated that more than 10,000 appointments were rendered redundant by patients not attending.

In a bid to slash the financial burden on the struggling trust, a scheme will be introduced at the Heath Road hospital next month, to remind patients of their outpatients appointments by phone.

The trust’s appointments team is introducing the free service, calling patients to let them know the date, time and location of their appointment seven days before.

Last year, 10,184 appointments were wasted at the hospital costing the trust more than �2.8million, up from �2.5m the year before.

The bill comes as the hospital struggle to tackle a spiralling debt problem, with around �11.6m accrued over the summer and a historic bill of �45m to pay for the Garratt Anderson wing.

It is hoped the new scheme will slash the number of patients not showing for appointments, helping with the financial burden as well as ensuring that unwanted appointments are offered to people on the waiting list.

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Patrick Harrington, IT implementation specialist and project lead, said: “Not only will this help patients who have forgotten their appointment, but it will also make it easier for patients to cancel if they no longer want the appointment, or to re-book if they cannot make the date available.”

He added: “We need everyone to understand that we cannot treat an empty chair. The slot forgotten or ignored by one patient would be so valuable to someone else.”

Only patients who have provided their mobile phone number will receive the automated reminder call. A text reminder will also be sent two days before the appointment.

A hospital spokeswoman assured that patients’ personal information will “always remain confidential”.

The service will be trialled in the musculoskeletal physiotherapy, diabetes and ophthalmology departments before being rolled out across the hospital.

If patients want to opt out of the service or amend their contact details, they just need to tell the receptionist when they next visit the clinic.

n Do you think the new service will work? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@ eveningstar.co.uk