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.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What do you know about the prostate?

If the answer's 'not much' then you're not alone. Here's a brilliantly simple idea from the European Men's Health Forum. Your Prostate is a website where you can ask questions about your prostate - peeing, sexual problems, disturbed sleep, supplements, cancer, anything at all. You can even ask what a prostate does. You'll get fast, free, confidential replies from specialist nurses and doctors.

By asking your question, you'll also be helping with a research project - and this is the bit that's so simple you wonder why nobody thought of it before - to find out what European men want to know about a subject we know we find it difficult to talk about. Yes, instead of doctors assuming they know what we want to know, this time they're asking us first. The results will be used by the EMHF to design some health education materials. To be effective though this project needs as many questions as possible so please, ask yours.

Questions and answers in English, Spanish and German so tell your friends across the world.