Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The cost of missed appointments

An NHS survey shows that men are more likely to miss appointments than women - blokes failed to attend 3.9 million outpatient appointments at hospitals last year. This is clearly not good - it costs the NHS money and means other people have to wait longer.

But the the total number of appointments cancelled by the hospitals - 4.9 million - is higher than the number of male no-shows. Yes, we should take more responsibility. Yes, we should be asking why are people not turning up for appointments. But we should also be asking why are hospitals cancelling more than 1 appointment in every 20?

We should also be asking what it costs. I asked both the NHS Information Centre who provided the missed appointment statistics and the Department of Health how much DNAs cost and neither of them knew. The Department suggested I contact Primary Care Trusts or Strategic Health Authorities. Both these bodies will be abolished under the government's latest plans so who will collect this data then? Individual GPs and hospitals? The new NHS Commissioning Board? We really are wading through treacle here yet the question, how much does a missed appointment cost?, is a very simple one. Worrying.

1 comment:

DM said...

I agree. With an aging population and rising health care costs, we need to find ways to make efficiencies. Missed appointments contribute to rising costs in a number of ways:
1. extra administrative overhead for re-bookings
2. lost time for doctors that cannot be recaptured.
3. longer wait times for patients that ultimately adds more stress to the health care system.

We need data and information in order to find an effective solution.

Keep us posted.