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Missed appointments 'cost King's Lynn hospital £2 million in a year', data shows

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn. (6459123)
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn. (6459123)

Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has lost more than £2 million in a year due to thousands of patients not turning up to appointments, figures show.

Data from NHS England shows that in the 12 months to September 2018, 16,697 people either did not show up for an outpatient appointment at the hospital, or arrived too late to be seen.

But bosses say the proportion of missed appointments has fallen following the introduction of a text message reminder scheme.

With the NHS struggling for funds amid budget cuts and increased demand, the British Medical Association said it was crucial appointments are not wasted while the health service is “under incredible stress”.

The average outpatient appointment costs the NHS £120, according to the latest resources cost data.

This means the 16,697 missed sessions cost The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, NHS Foundation Trust around £2 million.

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.”

At the QEH, out of the 239,172 outpatient appointments, seven per cent did not show up.

The figures also show 5,996 people failed to make their first appointment, eight per cent of first attendances.

A further of 10,701, or six per cent, did not appear for a subsequent meeting.

But Dr Nick Lyons, the hospital’s acting chief executive, said the introduction of text message reminders for patients has made a positive difference.

He said: “The Trust has seen a two per cent reduction in our ‘Do Not Attend’ rates thanks to this service along with a prominent campaign within the hospital and its social media channels.

“By not attending their appointments, patients miss out on important treatment and advice from our doctors, nurses and therapists but they are also preventing us from allocating that spot to another patient who needs it.

“We would encourage patients to attend their appointments and if they are unable to attend we would ask them to contact us.”

Across England, more than 5.8 million appointments were missed in the year to September, which cost the NHS around £700 million.

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