Patients costing hospital £1m

Patients who do not turn up to their appointments are costing a west Norfolk hospital more than £1million a year in lost revenue, it has been revealed.

Patients who do not turn up to their appointments are costing a west Norfolk hospital more than £1million a year in lost revenue, it has been revealed.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn has totted up how many appointments have been missed or forgotten by patients and found that in the last financial year, 2006/7, there were a staggering 16,000.

And because of the way the hospital is paid, this adds up to a potential £1.06m it has lost out on in payments from primary care trusts who commission care from the hospital.

The QEH is paid per treatment, which means even follow-up appointments will earn it much needed cash.

The hospital has been fighting a £11m deficit which it has now got down to £9m and hopes to clear £4.5m of a year as part of plans to make a bid for Foundation Status, which would give it more freedom over its own finances.

The figures were revealed in a response to a query sent to the hospital by the East of England Strategic Health Authority.

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It showed that most of the appointments missed were for the eye clinic and orthopaedic clinic follow-ups.

A hospital spokesman said of the 16,000 missed appointments, some will have been the same people missing a number of appointments. The hospital books about 296,000 appointments a year.

He said: “We have increased the time clinics are open to take on more patients and we are doing all we can to remind people they have appointments.”

For those who do turn up, the huge number of patients who miss their appointments mean a longer wait because the hospital deliberately overbooks clinics to make sure valuable time is not wasted.

But this also means the potential losses will be partially mitigated.

“Because we tend to overbook the clinics we will not have lost the £1.06m,” said the spokesman. “It is additional income we could generate from the PCT. If the patient does not turn up we do not get it.

“It's in everyone's interest to keep an appointment. For the patient it means that they can be treated promptly and for the hospital it means that we will generate more income, which can be used to improve local healthcare.”

Reasons for missing appointments are people either genuinely forget, can't be bothered, or on odd occasions may have moved home before an appointment letter turns up.

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