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Missed appointments at Ipswich Hospital topped 37,000 last year

Ipswich Hospital Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Ipswich Hospital Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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Patients missed more than 37,000 appointments at Ipswich Hospital last year, new figures have revealed.

Healthwatch Suffolk chief executive Andy Yacoub PIcture: GREGG BROWNHealthwatch Suffolk chief executive Andy Yacoub PIcture: GREGG BROWN

The hospital trust’s new annual report shows a total of 37,445 appointments were missed last year, at the cost of thousands of pounds to the taxpayer.

However Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, said it is too easy to blame patients for the issue and that hospitals could do more to make cancelling appointments an easier experience.

He said: “Missed appointments or did not attends are an issue for health services generally, whether you are a small GP, a large GP, a community hospital or an acute hospital.

“I think it is too easy to assume it is the patient’s fault.

“On the face of it, it looks like patient that has let down the hospital by not being at the appointment.

“It can be that. But what we don’t know much about, as there has never been an independent study, is why they don’t attend.

“We think it is partly to do with not understanding the letters, getting flooded with information or not having a clear point of contact if they need to change an appointment.

“They need to make it an easier system for people to use.”

The 37,445 missed appointments has slightly risen on last year’s figure of 35,495.

However the hospital has seen an increase in the number of patients it treats.

A spokesman for Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust said: “One of the biggest priorities for us as a trust is to make sure we value people’s time, to make time matter and to reduce the unnecessary stress and frustration around receiving healthcare.

“Many people very kindly do let us know they will not be able to keep appointments.

“Sadly some people are not able to do that.

“One of the reasons for not being able to do that is we may not be making it as easy or convenient as we possibly can to secure appointment times which are mutually agreed.

“We are very grateful to everyone who takes the time to rearrange an appointment.

“We cannot treat an empty seat and someone may be able to be treated in that seat.

“We do recognise that there’s a lot of work which we are now doing to make it easier and more convenient to come and see us.”

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