Ipswich Hospital left counting £4million cost of missed appointments

The research found people aged between 20 and 24 were the worst culprits. Around one in nine (11.2%)

The research found people aged between 20 and 24 were the worst culprits. Around one in nine (11.2%) failed to show up last year 839 patients out of 7,497. - Credit: Archant

The number of missed appointments at Ipswich Hospital has risen by more than 50% in two years – causing massive disruption to waiting times and costing the taxpayer millions of pounds, the Star can reveal.

The number of missed appointments at Ipswich Hospital has risen by more than 50% in two years – causing massive disruption to waiting times and costing the taxpayer millions of pounds, we can reveal.

More than 11,000 patients failed to show up for first appointments at the hospital in the last financial year.

It was a significant rise from the 7,400 figure in 2012/13 and means around one in 14 patients (6.9%) are now failing to attend appointments at the Heath Road site.

And with every no-show costing the NHS an estimated £150, it means the hospital has been left £4,358,550 worse off over the last three years.

Last night, Ipswich MP and junior health minster Ben Gummer stressed patients are responsible for ensuring the health service is not wasting time or resources.

The hospital went six weeks without hitting the government’s toughened-up target of treating 95% of A&E patients within four hours last Christmas, while the hospital faces a current deficit of around £12million.

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Mr Gummer said: “These figures are clearly disappointing. Everyone has a responsibility to ensure that the time of staff in the NHS is spent as productively as possible.

“I know in some cases people cannot help being late but in those instances where people fail to turn up through their own error they should be aware of the fact that they are wasting money and time that should be used on patient care.”

The figures, uncovered through Freedom of Information laws, found that out of 141,910 appointments in 2012/13, some 7,431 (5.2%) were missed.

Two years later, in 2014/15, there were 162,856 appointments. Of these, 11,310 (6.9%) were missed.

The research found people aged between 20 and 24 were the worst culprits. Around one in nine (11.2%) failed to show up last year – 839 patients out of 7,497.

Those aged between 65 and 69 recorded the lowest rate of missed appointments (3.8%).

It also found that almost six in 10 (59.4%) clinical physiology appointments were missed, as were 9.2% of plastic surgery appointments, 6.7% of cardiac surgery appointments and 4.4% of breast surgery appointments.

An Ipswich Hospital spokesman said: “Thankfully (the missed appointments) are just a small percentage but it is still too big because it represents wasted time for clinicians and longer waits for other people.

“If you can’t keep your appointment and you let us know, someone else is seen quicker, so our biggest message is please help us to help someone else.”

Of the 29,057 missed appointments in the last three years, a reason was not given for 28,716. Of the 341 reasons given, 114 arrived too late and 61 had forgotten, among others.

Hospitals have previously been urged by the government to think of innovative ways to tackle the issue, such as sending reminder texts end emails to patients or seeing them on Skype.

The hospital spokesman added: “We send people automatic text reminders and try very hard to set at a convenient time.

“However, there is probably more that we can do in having that conversation with people to make sure that the appointments we are making are actually able to be kept and we are reviewing the whole way in which follow-up appointments are made because these appointments could be for several weeks or months after your initial treatment and whether they are needed.”

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