Missed appointments cost NHS millions

HEALTH watchdogs have called for patients who don't turn up to be thrown off waiting lists after it was revealed the NHS in Suffolk has missed out on more than £3million.

HEALTH watchdogs have called for patients who don't turn up to be thrown off waiting lists after it was revealed the NHS in Suffolk has missed out on more than £3million.

If individuals fail to turn up hospitals lose much-needed income and patients who may have filled the slot miss out on quicker treatment.

According to new figures there were 35,311 missed hospital appointments in Suffolk between April 2006 and March this year - at a cost of £3.3m.

At Ipswich Hospital 22,742 people failed to turn up and the trust lost £2.1m in income, while at West Suffolk there were 12,569 missed appointments at a cost of £1.18m.

Prue Rush, spokeswoman for the Ipswich Hospital Patient and Public Involvement Forum (PPI), said patients needed to take responsibility for their actions and suggested regular re-offenders be struck off waiting lists.

She said: “There are occasions when it is beyond the control of the patient to get to an appointment but as far as possible they should let the hospital know they can't make it.

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“A one-off is unfortunate, but patients need to take responsibility and face the consequences. If they continually re-offend and miss appointments without a legitimate excuse they should be taken off the waiting list.”

Hospitals work out the cost of a missed appointment by calculating the income they should have received if the patient had turned up, while also taking into account the outlay in terms of employees - such as surgeons, nurses and support staff - who were due to see them.

A Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman said: “It's an enormous amount of money that has been wasted and we would urge anyone who is not able to make their appointment to let us know.

“It's important not just for the hospital, but for the community as a whole because the lost money could be spent on improving services while also helping to manage waiting lists.

A West Suffolk Hospital spokesman said their patients were also given a choice of appointment, so they can arrange a time and date which is most convenient for them.

n. Do you think people should be struck off for missing appointments? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk