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Text messages key to boosting check ups

PUBLISHED: 22:46 16 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:39 03 March 2010

SENDING text messages is being touted by hospital bosses as one way of cutting the amount of wasted hospital appointments as new figures reveal more than a thousand people did not bother turning up to appointments.

SENDING text messages is being touted by hospital bosses as one way of cutting the amount of wasted hospital appointments as new figures reveal more than a thousand people did not bother turning up to appointments.

The time wasted meant nearly two thousand more patients could have been seen during July - if people had not missed their booked times without informing Ipswich Hospital.

New figures show 1,908 - 7.6per cent of patients - did not attend for their new outpatient appointment.

As it is young people who are the worst culprits, text messaging has emerged as one way to combat the problem.

Medical director Ian Scott said: "Most people who 'did not attend' are under the age of 30. They work, they have family commitments."

He added that young people might be more inclined to not turn up because their ailments had got better while they waited for an appointment.

He added: "It is a waste of resources. The notes are found, and lie there ready, but nobody turns up and the consultant's time is wasted.

Acting director of finance Craig Black said: "There could be technological ways like text messages we could use with patients of this age range."

Mr Scott added: "It is sometimes quite impenetrable to get into organisations. Some people might think to phone their consultant's secretary but if they don't think like that they might ring the switchboard. I think it can be quite difficult to get through to the right department to pass on information."

In February, the Evening Star featured the new team behind the drive to cut the number of patients who failed to attend.

The hospital has made it possible for patients to choose their appointment, and the onus is now on the patient to get in touch and book their own appointment.

Calls are channelled into a high tech call centre, and the freephone number for new appointments is 01473 406887.

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