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Nearly £4m wasted as more than 30,000 people do not show up at hospital appointments in six months

PUBLISHED: 10:25 25 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:04 25 September 2018

Norfolk's three hospitals, from left to right, James Paget, Norfolk and Norwich, and the Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Archant

Norfolk's three hospitals, from left to right, James Paget, Norfolk and Norwich, and the Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Archant

Archant

Nearly £4m was wasted in just six months at Norfolk’s hospitals due to patients not showing up for appointments.

Data from NHS shows that, between January and June, 31,418 people either did not show up for an outpatient appointment at the trust, or arrived too late to be seen.

That was more than the whole population of Thetford and as the average cost of an outpatient appointment is £120, racked up a £3,769,000 bill for Norfolk’s hospitals.

That equates to around 9,000 ambulance call outs, or employing 163 nurses.

The highest number of no shows was at the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) in Gorleston, where 9,278 people did not show up for their outpatient appointment over six month. That was 8pc of the total number of appointments and cost £1.11m.

JPUH director of nursing Julia Hunt said: “Missed appointments delay care for other patients, waste staff time and cost money. We would urge anyone who cannot attend their hospital appointment to let us know in good time. We can then re-allocate the appointment to another patient in need of healthcare.”

At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn 6pc of patients did not turn up (8,158 out of 119,191), which cost £979,000.

While at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital £1.68m was wasted when 5pc did not show up (13,982 out of 244,259).

A spokesman for the hospital said: “Whilst we understand that there are a variety of reasons for patients to miss appointments, it is disappointing when some patients do not give notice that they cannot attend. It is important that patients tell us as soon as possible if they cannot attend, as these appointments could be assigned to other patients. We’d urge patients to arrive at the hospital site early to give them enough time to get to their appointment.”

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said: “The NHS is short of funding, short of staff and faces ever rising demand for its services.

“With modern communication, the excuses for missed appointments are running out. There will always be some unforeseen circumstances but in most circumstances, it should be possible to cancel appointments.”

Dr Robert Harwood, chairman of the BMA’s consultant committee, said: “It is important that no appointments are wasted at a time when the NHS is under incredible stress.

“We should not stigmatise patients who may for legitimate reasons be unable to attend.

“However, we do need the NHS to emphasise through clear publicity to the public that given the current unprecedented pressure, patients should make every possible effort to rearrange their appointment so that another person is able to receive treatment in their place.”

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