Increase in missed Scottish hospital appointments

The number of missed hospital appointments in Scotland has increased by 24,729 in a year.

A total of 771,421 appointments were skipped in 2012-13, compared with 746,692 the previous year.

The figures were obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats, who said the problem cost the health service millions of pounds every year.

The Scottish government said health boards were working to provide effective reminder services.

'Deeply concerning'

The largest increase was in Lanarkshire where missed appointments increased by 11,426 to 107,909. In Tayside, the figure rose by 7,637 to 131,831.

Of the 14 boards, 10 reported increased figures while the Borders, Grampian, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and the Western Isles all said the number of missed appointments in their area fell.

Lib Dem health spokesman Jim Hume said: "Obviously there are any number of reasons why a patient might miss a hospital appointment but these figures are deeply concerning.

"The fact that so many people are missing scheduled appointments not only costs us millions of pounds every year but could also have serious health consequences for some patients."

Mr Hume said health boards and NHS trusts in many parts of the UK were using new technology to increase the chance of patients attending hospitals and make it easier for them to cancel appointments when they need to.

"This minimises disruption for clinical staff, ensuring that doctors and nurses are spending as much time as possible with patients instead of kicking their heels waiting for people to turn up", he added.

"This is something that we need to encourage across Scotland and I hope that ministers are looking closely at how we can work with the NHS to turn this situation around."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "It is for individual health boards to decide how to tackle this issue, but all health boards are working to provide and optimise use of reminder services including use of text and phone reminders.

"Health boards are also working to give patients more choice over the time of an appointment to help reduce the number of appointments that are missed."

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