The dial-a-cure system starts next week after almost 45,000 patients missed their appointments at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in 12 months.
Managers say that accounts for just under 10 per cent of all outpatient appointments, wastes hundreds of thousands of pounds a year and makes waiting lists longer.The cost for this automated system isn’t given. So I suspect it’s high.
The new system will see patients receive an automated call a week before their appointment.
A text message is then sent nearer the time.If you need that sort of reminder system, then perhaps you should be getting an extra appointment in the neurological ward?
NHS watchdogs and patients today welcomed the crackdown on hospital no-shows.What ‘crackdown’?
A ‘crackdown’ would be if they put in a ‘three missed appointments and you won’t get another’ policy. This isn’t a crackdown, and everybody, from the service users quoted in the article to the people running the hospital service, is bending over backwards to try to be non-judgemental about the people that don’t keep the appointments:
George Hughes, aged 68, of Weston Coyney, who has had several heart attacks, said: "This is a belting idea.
"The new hospital is superb but I think one reason people don't turn up is the fear factor – they'd rather not know how ill they are.
"That is silly as the quicker the diagnosis, the better the chance of a cure.
"People's poor mobility could also be a reason but phoning patients the week before is an excellent initiative."No, it’s a costly waste of money and yet another attempt for the state to foster dependency. Stop making excuses for people!
If you have ‘poor mobility’ and can’t get to an appointment, you ring up and reschedule.
Councillor Colin Eastwood, chairman of Newcastle Borough Council's Health Scrutiny Committee, added: "If the hospital can cut these numbers it will save money and speed up appointments for everyone else.
"I would like to think people do show a responsible attitude to their appointments and only fail to show because they have simply forgotten, in which case a quick reminder call is ideal.
"Reasons for not arriving are not always the patients' fault and some may need support to get in."If they need ‘support to get in’, how is a couple of reminder messages going to fix this?
Outpatients directorate manager Steve Robbins said: "Missed appointments can be frustrating for staff and patients.
"I don't think many miss their appointment on purpose – it is easy to forget if it is booked far in advance.
"This new service will give patients a gentle reminder."And when they ignore the ‘gentle reminders’? What then?