One in 10 NHS appointments missed - health department

Nurses and health worker at hospital ward desk (model release)
Image caption Although the figure is down missed appointment still cause major problems for hospitals

One in 10 hospital appointments in England was missed by patients last year, the Department of Health says.

The department said although the number of no-shows was down 250,000 on the previous year, it cost millions and delayed treatment for other patients.

Health Minister Simon Burns said it was important for people to realise the knock-on effects of missing visits.

The government is encouraging hospitals to use more innovative ways to tackle the number of missed appointments.

For example, Newham University Hospital has started seeing diabetes patients who do not need a physical examination via Skype.

Several hospitals such as King's College, London, and Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust send patient reminders regarding appointments by text message.

'Simple ideas'

Mr Burns said: "It is important that people realise that not turning up for their agreed appointments means other patients' care might be delayed and doctors' and nurses' time could be wasted, costing taxpayers money.

"Today we are highlighting the number of missed appointments so people can see the impact this is having on their NHS.

"Patients often have genuine reasons to miss an appointment, but it can have a big impact on the care we can offer to other patients. It is important that the public understand we have responsibilities too, like not wasting precious NHS resources.

"I'm glad to see that the NHS is increasingly using simple ideas such as texting their patients before an appointment or seeing them via Skype. These could have a dramatic impact and I want to see more hospitals making use of them."

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